California Roads Suck
A new report concludes that California's rough roads are "creating additional operating costs for drivers due accelerated vehicle deterioration, additional maintenance needs and increased fuel consumption." The Road Information Program (TRIP) pegs the financial damage at more than $650 per driver per year– compared with $413 nationally. San Diego's "street-maintenance failings" cost the average motorist some $684 a year. It's even worse in the City of Angels; bad roads in LA cost automobilists a whopping $778 per year. TRIP says 23 percent of America's major metropolitan roads "feature pavement in poor condition." In California, it's as high as 65 percent. To help the media fulfill its "this sucks and it's getting worse" meta meme, TRIP claims that "Travel on urban roads is increasing, and travel by large commercial trucks is growing even faster than travel by cars." No word when California will go for a double whammy– fix the roads and save the planet– by raising gas taxes.
HitGuy nailed it. A much larger share CA budget goes to Education and the Prison System compared to 20-30 years ago. Whenever expedient funding for road upkeep us diverted to other causes that score the politicians more points, be it bike paths or multi-billion dollar subways in LA that go nowhere. Another factor here is that on a per mile traveled basis gas taxes have been increasing as cars get more efficient. Some one tooling along in a Prius or HCH is paying ~30% of the tax of the Suburban in the lane next to him. It gets more interesting still when you throw an electric or plug in into the mix. As unpopular as it would be CA should increase gas and diesel taxes 0.25-.30/gallon and put the $ back into roads exclusively. They should have a tax on containers moving through the LA/LB and Oakland ports. CA is cross subsidizing transportation by not making truck container haulers (drayage carriers) pay for their impact in terms of pollution and road degradation. I was amazed by the much higher quality of roads when I moved to NV 3 years ago. The cities of Reno & Sparks actually tax gas & diesel $.10/gal just for road improvements. I don't mind it as I can see where the $ is going.
Others have said it already, but probably the number one reason that California has such horrible roads is the diversion of gas tax money from the upkeep of the roads to the general fund and local pork. Same as the national government, state senators and assemblymen get earmarks to their districts for what amounts to public welfare. Building bike paths, local rail, subsidizing public transportation in general. Despite the people of the state voting to enact a law that requires gas tax money to be spent on roads, the state legislature with the blessing of the governor continues to "borrow" the gas tax money to fund studies of snail darter habitat, embryonic cell research, and other important road projects. Of course the other big drain on the highway fund is the cost of doing business in California. The environmental review process can hold up projects for years. For instance, Highway 12 through Santa Rosa has been shown as a future road on AAA maps for as long as I can remember. Raising taxes, as much as everyone seems to like it, will not result in better roads; it will result in better offices for Department of education beaurecrats.
Off topic, but... Redstapler: Have you heard about the plan to fix the horrible pollution problems around the harbor, caused mainly by the old trucks owned/driven by Mexican nationals? I read, I think in the LA Times, the Port Authority is planning to BUY new engines or repair old engines for all the old wrecks, at NO COST to the owners.
Hmmm, was that a pot-hole I just drove over? No, just a biased press release and report from TRIP, a D.C. lobbying group. The tripnet.org "About Us" page offers no substantive information about them. But here is a quote from their membership page: There are many reasons to become a TRIP supporter. Our supporters have access to information that is tailored to their interests. I imagine that those interests revolve around diverting more tax dollars from TTAC reader pockets to their member companies. TTAC is generally good at "following the money" and telling us who is paying for things. I recall from past press releases that TRIP is a lobbying group for paving contractors, but I can not verify this. Might intrepid TTAC reporters have better luck at finding out who these guys are?