California Dominates Lists of Nation’s Worst Roads in Urban Areas

Friday, October 04, 2013

If it weren’t for Oklahoma, California would own all four of the top spots in a list of the nation’s worst roads (pdf) in large urban areas (pop. 500,000+) published by the national transportation research group TRIP. But the state ceded the #2 and #4 spots to Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Still, roads in the Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana area ranked #1, with 64% of the transportation routes being rated “poor.” The San Francisco–Oakland area was third (56%), San Diego was fifth (53%) and San Jose was sixth (51%). Three more California urban areas rounded out the Top 20 (see below).

California was equally as impressive in mid-sized urban areas with populations between 250,000 and 500,000. Antioch takes top honors with 64% of its roads being rated poor. Hemet is fourth (48%), Santa Rosa is fifth (48%), Temecula–Murrieta is sixth (48%), Stockton is 13th (37%), Modesto is 15th (34%) and Oxnard is 19th (31%).

The Washington, D.C.–based transportation group said more than one-quarter of the nation’s roads were in bad condition and cost drivers $80 billion annually. TRIP’s report noted that local and state governments were hard-pressed to make improvements under present economic conditions and that the federal surface transportation program was set to expire a year from now, so the situation would likely grow worse.

The rankings, compiled from information gleaned from the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) 2011 annual survey of state transportation officials, are based on a uniform pavement rating index. The cost to drivers was calculated by factoring in vehicle deterioration and depreciation, as well as additional fuel consumption and repairs.

The cost to drivers in the L.A.–Long Beach–Santa Ana area was put at $832 each per year, $48 higher than #2 Tulsa. Drivers in the mid-size champ Antioch spend $793 annually.

In the end, the report cites numbers from a 2007 FHWA report in making a pitch for government to spend money on fixing roads because, in addition to saving drivers cash, every $1 billion spent on repairs generates 27,800 jobs.

     Large Urban Areas % Poor Cost
 1. L.A.–Long Beach–Santa Ana 64% $832
 2. Tulsa, Oklahoma                      60% $784
 3. San Francisco–Oakland            56% $782
 4. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma       55% $782
 5. San Diego                                 53% $758
 6. San Jose                                  51% $737
 7. Tucson, Arizona                       51% $723
 8. Milwaukee, Wisconsin              48% $700
 9. New Orleans, Louisiana            47% $687
10. New York, NY–Newark, New Jersey  47% $673
12. Sacramento 45% $658
13. Riverside-San Bernardino 43% $638
15. Concord 42% $623

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

L.A. Has Worst Big-City Roads in the Nation, a Study Finds (by Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times)

Bumpy Roads Ahead: America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother (TRIP) (pdf)


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