Bay Area Pavement Quality Stuck in Doldrums Despite Smoother Ride in Some Communities


Overall pavement conditions on the Bay Area’s nearly 44,000 lane-miles of local streets and roads landed once again in fair territory last year, with the typical stretch of roadway showing serious wear and likely to require rehabilitation soon. Data released by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) put the region’s 2021 pavement condition index (PCI) score at 67 out of a maximum possible 100 points, as computed on a three-year moving average basis. This marks the sixth consecutive year Bay Area streets and roads have registered an average score of 67 and underscores the continuing challenges faced by city and county public works departments.

“The new pavement data is a bit of a mixed bag,” commented MTC Chair and Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza. “The good news is that our counties and cities have been able to prevent major deterioration, thanks in large part to the state gas tax money they receive through the SB 1 local streets and roads program. The bad news is we’re still a long way away from our goal of bringing the Bay Area’s streets and roads into a state of good repair, which would raise the regional average into the mid-80s.”

PCI scores of 90 or higher are considered “excellent.” These are newly built or resurfaced streets that show little or no distress. Pavement with a PCI score in the 80 to 89 range is considered “very good” and shows only slight or moderate distress, requiring primarily preventive maintenance.  The “good” category ranges from 70 to 79, while streets with PCI scores in the “fair” (60-69) range are becoming worn to the point where rehabilitation may be needed to prevent rapid deterioration. Because major repairs cost five to 10 times more than routine maintenance, these streets are at an especially critical stage. Roadways with PCI scores of 50 to 59 are deemed “at-risk,” while those with PCI scores of 25 to 49 are considered “poor.” These roads require major rehabilitation or reconstruction. Pavement with a PCI score below 25 is considered “failed.”

The lowest-ranked pavement in the Bay Area was found in Pacifica, which recorded a PCI score of 42 for 2019-21. The only other jurisdictions with three-year average PCI scores in the “poor” range are Petaluma (44), Sebastopol and unincorporated Napa County (46), and Vallejo (48). The three-year moving average PCI score for the nearly 2,700 lane-miles of rural roads in unincorporated Sonoma County last year moved one point higher into the “at-risk” range (51) after many years in the “poor” bracket.

See your city’s score – Pavement Condition Of Bay Area Jurisdictions

MTC is the regional transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency
for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

About Kevin

Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-UPI, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Trustee RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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