Local News

Where the rubber meets the road: Bay Area streets improving

By November 9, 2019 No Comments
An increase in local and state taxes has helped fuel better roads for Bay Area drivers, according to a new Metropolitan Transportation Commission report. (Photo by Michael Hicks/Wikipedia)

The quality of pavement on Bay Area roads held steady in 2018, with a minor improvement to the regional average attributed to projects funded by the recent hike to the state’s fuel tax, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

There are 43,500 “lane miles” of local streets and roads, which achieved an average pavement condition index of 68 out of 100. In 2017 and 2016, the regional average was 67, according to the MTC, which is the transportation planning and financing agency for the nine-county Bay Area.

There are a few outliers, however. The East Bay city of Dublin achieved an average of 86 from 2016 to 2018, earning a ranking of “very good.” Clayton, El Cerrito, Brentwood, Palo Alto, Cupertino, Foster City, Daly City, Colma, San Ramon and Union City also ranked as “very good.”

Larkspur, on the other hand, earned an average score of just 46 from 2016 to 2018. Their 2018 score showed serious signs of improvement, though, at 54. MTC officials say that voter approval of a sales tax aimed at rehabilitating local streets was the difference.

The city passed a five-year, half-cent tax in 2013, and after putting it to good use the voters approved another one.

“We developed a five-year investment plan and showed that our needs were much greater than could be addressed with the five-year tax,” Larkspur public works director Julian Skinner said. “But we also showed it would help us from falling further behind the curve.”

“Once we had a three-year record of doing the paving projects we had promised, voters in 2017 approved an open-ended renewal of the tax at three-quarters of a cent,” he said. “We’re now in year one of a new five-year plan, by the end of which every street in Larkspur will have been paved, and our annual pavement maintenance needs will be reduced to a level that can be sustained with local funding.”

Readers can find details about the pavement conditions in their own city, such as historical data reaching back to 2003, using the commission’s Vital Signs website.