For all of the wealth and technology flowing through the Bay Area, you’d think they could figure out a way to handle a problem like potholes. But the San Francisco-Oakland metropolitan area has the highest percentage of bumpy roads of any major urban center in the US.
Overall, 28% of roads in America’s urban centers with a population of 500,000 or greater are considered to be in substandard condition, according to a new report from Trip, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit transportation research group.
But in the San Francisco-Oakland area, that figure soars to 74%. Greater Los Angeles, famously known for its car culture, came in second at 73%. Overall, California metro areas made up four of the top five spots, with Detroit being the lone exception (No. 4 with 56%).
Potholes and cracked pavement aren’t just uncomfortable to drive over. They also take a toll on cars. Deteriorated roads cost American drivers $109.3 billion annually, with urban drivers averaging $516 on vehicle repairs and increased fuel costs a year. Drivers in San Francisco and Oakland, meanwhile, spend double that, averaging $1,044.
Trip is calling for Congress to invest in road repairs, especially as more people are taking to the road. There was little change in vehicle travel from 2008 to 2013. But travel rose by 1.7% in 2014 and then accelerated further to start 2015, increasing 3.9% in the first four months compared to a year earlier. Furthermore, commercial truck travel is expected to soar by 72% in the next 15 years, according to the group’s forecast.
“With state and local governments struggling to fund needed road repairs and with federal surface transportation funding set to expire this month, road conditions are projected to get even worse,” said executive director Will Wilkins.
Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.