San Francisco Roads Among Nation's Crappiest, Study Finds

Categories: Transportation
Bay Bridge Collapse.jpg
That's one hell of a pothole there...
Aggressive local motorists driving as if they "own the road" may want to rethink that investment. A study released today by the Washington, D.C.-based transportation research group TRIP identifies highways and major thoroughfares in San Francisco as some of the nation's most dilapidated -- and costing drivers a bundle.

The TRIP study pegs roads in "San Francisco-Oakland" as the fifth-most beaten up among cities of 500,000 or more, with 58 percent deemed in "poor" condition. San Jose -- a city that openly lusts for the mantle of Northern California's honorary capital -- "wins" this competition, with 64 percent of its roads deemed substandard.

Fixing -- or not fixing -- crappy roads costs California drivers in two ways. First off, public funds used for maintenance originate with taxpayers. Second, per TRIP's estimate, the average American driver pays $407 a year in remedial costs due to poor road conditions -- that's money paid to a mechanic or a gas station due to poor mileage. San Franciscans pay an estimated $706 yearly -- third-highest in the nation behind No. 1 San Jose ($756) and No. 2 Los Angeles ($746).

California made plenty of appearances on this list, not surprisingly. The Golden State has more people, cars, and roads than just about anywhere. We also have Proposition 13 siphoning money away from road maintenance -- among other things.

"California is a heavily traveled system and there's a lack of adequate funding by state and local governments," says Trip's director of policy and research, Frank Moretti.

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California cities have eight of the top-20 spots for roughest roads, and seven of the top-20 highest "vehicle operating costs" -- including four of the top five (San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, and Concord).

Moretti says data for all "arterials" is collected by CalTrans every year. Pavement condition data is required by the Federal Highway Administration.

The study suggests a comprehensive federal program for road maintenance, fixing problems early before they become massive, using high-quality materials, and, essentially, spending more money on road maintenance. 

That sounds like fairly sensible advice -- even for a group that discloses its funding sources are " insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers; businesses involved in highway and transit engineering, construction and finance; labor unions; and organizations concerned with an efficient and safe surface transportation network."

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