In July, heavy rainfall caused the collapse of an I-10 freeway bridge near Indio, California (click here for the story). One of the things that surprised me the most when I was reading the article was my lack of surprise; in fact, I had skimmed over the headline 2 or 3 times before deciding to read the whole story. The fact that these kinds of occurrences have become so common is cause for concern.
The “California Local Streets & Roads Assessment” has been completed every two years since 2008; in 2014 all 58 of California’s counties and 482 cities were surveyed for the report. “The information captured data from more than 99 percent of the state’s local streets and roads – a level of participation that makes clear the local interest in addressing the growing problems of crumbling streets and roads” (Assessment 2014 Update Executive Summary).
Roads form the backbone of our infrastructure grid as they connect everything together, but are often overlooked. If you drive just a few miles in Los Angeles, you are most likely to find more than one pothole on your route. According to the study, 81% of local streets are roads are owned and operated by cities and counties. This means our efforts at the local level can have an impact on decision makers, since it is estimated that in 10 years one fourth of the roads in California will be in “failed” condition which is in regards to the road’s surface condition.
Improving road conditions through regular maintenance will improve the flow of traffic, bicycle safety and reduce future costs from failed roads. It is anticipated that there will be an $82.2 billion funding shortfall over the next 10 years in terms of road maintenance, sidewalks, gutters, curbs and storm drains (Assessment 2014 FAQ).
Roads enable economic development, so why has the prioritization fallen so far down the list? How can we utilize the information in this report to encourage action on a topic that is easy to disregard?
The “Save California Streets” campaign was managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and sponsored by the cities and counties of California. Oversight was provided by several agencies, including: League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties, County Engineers Association of California, California Regional Transportation Planning Agencies, California Rural Counties Task Force, Metropolitan transportation Commission and the County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works.
Read the full report here: http://www.savecaliforniastreets.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2014-Statewide-Report-FINAL-10-28-14.pdf
The video of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight Show has circulated the internet for a few weeks now and gained almost 3 million views on Youtube. Spaced out between the entertaining video clips and jokes, John questions why the importance of infrastructure has fallen between the cracks of our culture. From the dam building era of the 1900s, infrastructure such has fallen from a symbol of progress and ingenuity to something worthy of destruction in the next big screen action film.