California’s State Highway System ranks 42nd in the Nation
The annual report ranks all 50 states in categories such as interstate pavement condition, traffic condition, deficient bridges, and spending per mile of state-controlled road. The report is based on spending and performance data that state highway agencies submit to the federal government.
Although California has made some gains relative to other states—and reported the lowest percentage of deficient bridges of any state in the nation—there is still plenty of bad news in the report. As anyone who drives in Southern California can attest, traffic congestion continues to cripple the state. California ranked 48th in urban congestion. Only New York and New Jersey have worse rankings. California is one of eight states where drivers now experience at least 50 hours of delay annually per auto commuter.
The pavement condition on California’s interstate highways is also poor. California is struggling to catch up in both urban and rural areas in this category. Even after recent improvements, the state’s urban interstate pavement condition ranks 48th out of 50, and its rural interstate pavement ranks only slightly better, in 45th position.
Years of delaying required maintenance has created pavement problems that are not easily fixed. Skipping routine maintenance can take years off a road’s lifespan and dramatically increase costs, as minor upkeep turns into rehabilitation, which turns into major reconstruction.
“The state needs to prioritize the maintenance and repairs it has been putting off for far too long. California should have more certainty in its transportation planning now,” says Adrian Moore, vice president of research at Reason Foundation.
As Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature continue to debate how to improve the state’s long-term transportation funding, a statewide solution is not forthcoming. But for the Southern California region, Los Angeles-area residents will soon be able to vote on a ballot initiative that would bring much-needed funds—Measure M, the .
“Measure M provides a long-term, sustainable funding mechanism to invest in filling the gaps in our region’s transportation system, unclogging our roadways, and helping us meet Los Angeles’ long-term infrastructure needs,” says Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council.