Bumpy road ahead for Sacramento infrastructure

By Alastair Bland

Sacramento County’s roads are bad and getting worse. And, in the years ahead, drivers and cyclists are likely to encounter increasingly more cracks and potholes as the budget gap for roadway maintenance widens, according to a new statewide study.

Kiana Buss, a legislative representative with the California State Association of Counties, which collaborated on the study, says deteriorating pavement, sidewalks, bike lanes and bridges around California will require about $7 billion per year to restore to safe conditions.

Currently, she says, 6 percent of the state’s asphalt is in condition so bad it’s officially termed “failed.” In a decade, a quarter of the state’s roads may deteriorate to this level.

“Failed is as bad as it gets,” Buss said. “The road has to be completely rebuilt.”

Sacramento County’s “pavement condition index,” which rates roads on a scale of zero to 100, is 62. The statewide average is 66—a rating projected to decline to 55 in the next decade. Currently, just 56 percent of roads in California are rated above 70.

A key finding of the study reveals that preventing road damage before it happens is extremely cost-effective, requiring 12 times less investment than overhauling a destroyed surface.

Buss says to turn around the deterioration of road conditions in California will require investing between two and four times as much revenue into repairs and maintenance.

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