About 28% of the nation’s major urban roads, including interstates and highways, are in poor condition, according to TRIP, a national transportation research group operating in Washington, DC. Regularly using these roads ends up costing drivers an average $516 per year in added maintenance to their vehicles.
California is a major culprit. Using the latest 2013 Federal Highway Administration data for cities with populations of 500,000 or more, the group’s most recent report ranks San Francisco #1, with 74% of roads in both San Francisco and Oakland considered to be in poor condition.
The area comprising Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Santa Ana is a close runner-up with 73%. Other Golden State cities — Concord, San Jose, and San Diego — made TRIP’s bad-roads list, coming in with 62%, 53%, and 51%, respectively.
Outside California, Michigan, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii appear in the TRIP’s top 10 list of roads that are becoming too rough for riders.
While commuting can be costly, relying on roads that need repair can make trips in traffic an extended nightmare for drivers and a dream for car repair companies.
Leading TRIP’s ranking of the costliest roads for drivers, San Francisco’s poorly maintained streets and highways cost drivers an estimated $1,044 each year — double the national average — in related repair bills.
Roads affected by extensive heat (like in #25 New Orleans) or covered with postwinter potholes (#13 Milwaukee) can throw a car out of alignment, damage tires, dent alloys, and wear down shock absorbers and springs.
Facing budget restraints postrecession, state and local governments have been struggling to self-fund maintenance for roads and bridges. The Highway Trust Fund deadline looms large, with Congress scrambling to establish a short-term extension this week before lawmakers leave for the August recess.
Industry Impact — Companies that specialize in highway, street, and bridge construction contracting should target state and local governments that have some of the poorest road conditions but with budgets that are still well-funded by typical sources, such as gasoline and vehicle sales taxes.
Colbert is an industry writer and blogger. Before joining D&B, she spent more than a dozen years in magazine publishing, technical writing, ad copywriting, medical writing, and marketing.