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Richmond Has Second Worst Roads in Bay Area
October 18, 2006

Bay area roads ranked
Posted on Wed, Oct. 18, 2006


The quality of Bay Area roads improved slightly in 2005 but nearly 20 percent of the region's cities and counties still struggle to maintain their streets adequately, according to a pavement report released today.

The region's 19,500 miles of streets and roads earned an overall ranking of 64 points out of a possible 100, a "good" classification on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's annual "pavement condition index."

That's just two points better than the 2004 score.

"It's a slight improvement and I think that's good news but it's too early to declare victory," said commission spokesman John Goodwin. "One year of improvement does not a trend make. There are thousands of miles of roads out there that are in pretty bad shape."

The report doesn't grade individual roads, but gives a ranking to all but two of the Bay Area's 101 cities and all nine counties based on data submitted by public works agencies, Goodwin said.

The best roads are in Oakley, which scored a "very good" 86 and where new construction likely accounts for the city's high quality pavement, Goodwin said.

The worst score is for roads in unincorporated Sonoma County, which received a "poor" rank of 33. Richmond has the second worst roads, with a "fair" rank of 47, and Orinda follows closely with a 48.

Streets with a score of 60 and below, from good to fair, are in danger of rapidly deteriorating to the point where they need major repairs, which cost five times more than routine maintenance, according to the report.

Orinda struggles to maintain its streets because even though it's an affluent community, "our city budget it pretty limited," said City Councilwoman Amy Worth.

The city receives only 7 cents on the dollar from property tax rolls and can muster only about $850,000 a year to repair all its public roads, which need roughly $93 million of repairs.

The roads are old and when the city incorporated in 1985 they were already in bad shape, she said. Also, they were built on poor soils and often without curbs or gutters.

"You try to keep at it every year but the revenue that's there isn't adequate to solve the problem," Worth said. "The state has consistently taken money away from local government. We get less and less of the share of the money to provide local services and the state is doing less and less in terms of infrastructure investment, so local governments get hit both ways."

Even if the $20 billion transportation bond on the November ballot passes, only a fraction of that will be available to Bay Area governments for road maintenance, which is why cities like Orinda are pushing their own local measures.

Orinda's Measure Q would raise $59 million for to repair the city's most traveled roads and for other infrastructure improvements.

"This is very typical," Worth said. "We have to say we wish the state would do it, but they're not so we have to do it locally."


Kiley Russell covers transportation. Contact him at 925-952-5027 or krussell@cctimes.com.