What Will It Take for Caltrans to Decide to “Fix-It-First?”

11_24_09_metblogs_pothole.jpgPhoto: Metblogs

How many people would be surprised to discover that California’s roads were ranked as the third worst in the nation?  According to a recent survey of truckers by Overdrive Magazine who make cross-country trips, only two states have worse roads, and none have worse drivers.  Locally, the I-5 and I-10 were listed as "unspeakably bad" roads. 

The Daily News reports that these truckers, hardly a group known for environmental thinking, have called on Caltrans to embrace a "Fix-It-First" philosophy where they direct a dedicate a portion of the budget every year to maintaining highways.

Oh, wait.  That story was from 1999.

More recently, the Sierra Club released a report ranking the nation’s highways, surface streets, and bridges according to the percent of which have been rated "structurally deficient" or "functionally obsolete."  California’s freeways ranked last in the country, with 45% earning one of these "distinctions."  The Sierra Club recommends a "Fix-It-First" approach to planning to reverse this trend of failing roads.

That story is from 2005.

Yesterday, AASHTO, which is basically the highway builders lobby, released their own report on the state of our highways.  According to National Public Radio, California didn’t fare too well.

California is known for its car culture. But it turns out those wheels
are rolling over some of the worst roads in the nation. A recent study
ranked California 49th out of the 50 states for the quality of its
pavement. New Jersey came in last. But California has the distinction
of having the nation’s worst roads in urban areas.

And yet, in a time of limited transportation funding, our priority remains to build more and more highways while the ones we have continue to fall into a state of neglect.  The poor condition of our roads has led to more expensive commutes for car commuters.  Nationally, the poor condition of our roads costs drivers $335 a year.  In Los Angeles, that number is $746.

In the ten years since Overdrive Magazine ranked our roads the third worst in the country, California has responded by doing nothing to make our roads more safe.  Instead, the roads actually got worse as compared to the rest of the country.

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