Stubborn Mediocrity Marks Local Streets and Roads
OAKLAND, CA — The quality of the pavement on the Bay Area’s nearly 43,000 lane-miles of local streets and roads is stuck in “fair” condition, with the typical stretch of asphalt showing serious wear and likely to require rehabilitation soon. Data released today by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) puts the region’s 2013 pavement condition index (PCI) score at 66 out of a maximum possible 100 points, as calculated on a three-year moving average basis. This marks the fifth consecutive year the region has registered an average PCI score of 66, a reading that has not varied by more than two points since 2006. Each of the Bay Area’s three largest cities — San Jose (62), San Francisco (65) and Oakland (60) — recorded three-year PCI scores within the “fair” range.
“Restoring the Bay Area’s transportation system to a state of good repair has long been one of the Commission’s most important priorities, and one of its most elusive,” commented MTC Chair Amy Rein Worth, who also serves as a member of the Orinda City Council. “For local streets and roads, the goal is to get every one of our cities and counties to a score of 75 or better.”
Maintaining a regional average of 66 may be viewed as something of a partial victory, since most local governments’ pavement maintenance needs have outstripped available funds for many years. “Big improvements are possible if local voters decide streets and roads are an important civic priority,” Worth noted. “The clearest example is El Cerrito, which passed a half-cent sales tax in 2008 to finance a very successful citywide street improvement program. Voters in Orinda and Moraga approved similar measures in 2012 and that money is now being put to work. The needle is already moving in the right direction in Moraga and I expect next year’s report to show the same kind of progress in my city of Orinda.”
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.” These roads are difficult to drive on and need reconstruction.
The lowest-ranked pavement in the Bay Area was found in the Marin County city of Larkspur and the Napa County city of St. Helena, each of which recorded a PCI score of 40 for 2011-13, down two points from 42 during the 2010-12 period. In addition to Larkspur and St. Helena, other jurisdictions with three-year average PCI scores below the 60-point threshold include Albany, Belmont, Benicia, Berkeley, Calistoga, Cotati, East Palo Alto, Millbrae, Moraga, Orinda, Pacifica, Petaluma, Rio Vista, San Anselmo, San Leandro, Vallejo, and unincorporated Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties.
MTC’s Regional Streets and Roads Program later this year will recognize Moraga for having the best overall pavement management strategy of any jurisdiction in the Bay Area. The town boosted its one-year average PCI score to 58 in 2013 from just 50 the year before. The Regional Streets and Roads Program also will recognize the San Mateo County city of Half Moon Bay for chalking up the biggest improvement in its one-year PCI score, to 68 in 2013 from 56 in 2012; and the Contra Costa County city of Brentwood, whose one-year average PCI score of 86 is the highest of any Bay Area jurisdiction.
The complete 2013 Bay Area Pavement Conditions Summary — including percentages of local roadways in “excellent” or “very good” and “poor” or “failed” condition, and a listing of average PCI scores for the arterials, collector roadways and residential streets — in all Bay Area counties and cities is available at mtc.ca.gov/news/street_fight/pci.htm. Those interested in a deeper look at the challenges facing the region’s local street and road network are invited to view MTC's multimedia piece entitled “Street Fight: The Ongoing Battle for Better Bay Area Pavement.”
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
John Goodwin: (415) 778-5262
Randy Rentschler: (415) 778-6780