According to a study released
Dec. 27, California's roads are the worst in the nation. The
findings were based on roadway quality and per capita dollars being
spent to improve roads.
In 2000, the state's
roads were ranked third worst in the nation. With 37 percent of
168,000 miles of state and local roads rated poor, the Golden State
has fallen to dead last on the list for 2001, according to The Road
Information Program, which prepared the study. Other states with
the dubious distinction of being ranked in the bottom five were
Louisiana, 27 percent; Massachusetts, 25 percent; and New Jersey
and Missouri, 21 percent.
"A generation of underinvestment
in California's streets, highways, overpasses and bridges has
resulted in a shameful deterioration of what once was a showcase
transportation network," said Larry Fisher, executive director
of Transportation California, a transportation advocacy and public
Travel in California increased
97 percent between 1980 and 2000, and population increased 42 percent
in the same period. Yet, California invested less per person in
transportation than any state, according to the report. This underinvestment
has had an adverse impact on travel, safety and drivers' pocketbooks.
California ranks first nationally
in extra vehicle operating costs that motorists pay when driving
on congested, rutted roads. California motorists collectively pay
$12 billion, or $558 individually, in extra vehicle operating costs
annually as a result of driving on roads in poor, mediocre and fair
condition. Reducing the percentage of poor and mediocre roads to
20 percent, respectively, would save the average motorist $215 annually,
and all California drivers $4.7 billion.
More than a third of the
state's roads are now in mediocre shape, according to the report.
In addition, three out of 10 of the state's overpasses and
bridges have deficiencies that must be addressed. The California
Transportation Commission estimates that the state's unfunded
transportation needs top $115 billion. To reverse the trend of decaying
roads, a proposal on the state's March ballot would reportedly
earmark the sales tax on fuel for transportation, dedicating more
than a billion dollars per year for roads, bridges and transit.