Bay Area Streets and Roads Deliver Smoother Ride As Cities, Counties Put Gas Tax Dollars to Work
Bay Area cities and counties largely improved the quality of the pavement on their local street and road networks in 2018. Data released today by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) show the region’s nearly 43,500 lane-miles of local streets and roads registered an average pavement condition index (PCI) score of 67 out of a maximum possible 100 points last year, as calculated on a three-year moving average basis. This marks the third year in a row that the regional average has reached 67 points. With more state dollars flowing to cities’ and counties’ pavement programs after the November 2017 start of the Senate Bill 1 fuel tax increases, the Bay Area’s one-year average PCI score for 2018 ticked up one point to 68.
“MTC’s goal is to bring all the Bay Area’s transportation assets into a state of good repair,” explained MTC Chair and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty. “For local streets and roads, that would mean boosting the regional average PCI score to about 85 points. So there’s a lot of work ahead for cities and counties all around the Bay Area. But after just one full year of SB 1 funding, the numbers are already moving in the right direction and we expect to see faster improvement over the next few years.”
PCI scores of 90 or higher are considered “excellent.” These are newly built or resurfaced streets that show little or no distress. Pavement with a PCI score in the 80 to 89 range is considered “very good,” and shows only slight or moderate distress, requiring primarily preventive maintenance. The “good” category ranges from 70 to 79, while streets with PCI scores in the “fair” (60-69) range are becoming worn to the point where rehabilitation may be needed to prevent rapid deterioration. Because major repairs cost five to 10 times more than routine maintenance, these streets are at an especially critical stage. Roadways with PCI scores of 50 to 59 are deemed “at-risk,” while those with PCI scores of 25 to 49 are considered “poor.” These roads require major rehabilitation or reconstruction. Pavement with a PCI score below 25 is considered “failed.” Among the region’s three largest cities, San Francisco last year climbed higher into the “good” category by raising its three-year moving average score from 70 to 72, while San Jose (65) and Oakland (54) remained in the “fair” and “at-risk” classifications, respectively.
Dublin once again topped the list of Bay Area pavement rankings for the 2016-18 period, reporting an average PCI score of 86. Other cities with three-year PCI scores in the “very good” range include Clayton and Palo Alto (84); Daly City and El Cerrito (83); Brentwood (82); Cupertino, Foster City and unincorporated Solano County (81); and Colma, San Ramon and Union City (80).
The lowest-ranked pavement in the Bay Area was found in Petaluma, which recorded a PCI score of 45 for 2016-18. The only other jurisdiction with a three-year average PCI score in the “poor” range is Larkspur (46). But the Marin County city’s one-year PCI score for 2018 climbed eight points to 54, ranking among the biggest year-over-year increases of any Bay Area city. Larkspur’s city government has made pavement maintenance a top priority, and voters in recent years have twice approved local sales tax measures dedicated to rehabilitating the city’s 65 lane-miles of local streets.
“The first was a half-cent for five years, passed in 2013,” explained Larkspur public works director Julian Skinner. “We developed a five-year investment plan and showed that our needs were much greater than could be addressed with the five-year tax. But we also showed it would help us from falling farther behind the curve. Once we had a three-year record of doing the paving projects we had promised, voters in 2017 approved an open-ended renewal of the tax at three-quarters of a cent. We’re now in year one of a new five-year plan, by the end of which every street in Larkspur will have been paved, and our annual pavement maintenance needs will be reduced to a level that can be sustained with local funding.”
MTC’s Local Streets and Roads Committee later this year will recognize the Contra Costa County city of Clayton for having the best overall pavement management program of any Bay Area jurisdiction; the cities of Cupertino, Dublin and Palo Alto for their high PCI scores year after year; and the Marin County city of Mill Valley for the biggest one-year PCI increase in the region. Mill Valley last year raised its one-year score by 13 points to 73 from 60 in 2017.
The complete 2018 Pavement Conditions Summary — including percentages of local roadways in various conditions, and a listing of average PCI scores for the arterials, collector roadways and residential streets for all Bay Area counties and cities — may be accessed here.
MTC’s Vital Signs website www.vitalsigns.mtc.ca.gov/street-pavement-condition provides even more detailed information on pavement conditions in each of the Bay Area’s nine counties and 101 cities, including both block-by-block analyses and a record of every municipality’s average PCI score for each year from 2003 through 2018.
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.