Why Are Our Roads Seeing Red?

BY JORDAN SALINGER
August 31, 2010

roads[Image courtesy of Streetsblog]

San Francisco has a problem with its roads. Since 1988, the average pavement condition of roads in San Francisco has declined 20%. No longer considered an essential city service to be paid for out of the City's General Fund, city officials are looking for new ways to pay for street repavement projects. They are also prioritizing street repairs based on how fundamental each road is to the overall system.

With the current average PCI (pavement condition index) of San Francisco roads registering at 63 out of 100, we are in a troubling situation. Our roads are no longer considered "Good" (roads with scores of 70 and above). Instead they are dangerously close to "At risk" (roads at 57 and below).

According to a report prepared by San Francisco's capital planning program, "San Francisco's street network as a whole is slightly below the threshold for preventive maintenance. Engineers typically identify a PCI of 64 as a tipping point at which the pavement deterioration rate begins to steeply increase and more expensive treatments are needed for repair." The report also claims the cost of repair of any San Francisco street will be four times more over the course of 70 years of use, if the proper preventive maintenance does not occur. If new funding sources are not identified, our roads stand to decline at the rate of roughly a point per year.

To get a complete analysis of San Francisco's roads, and how we can best address this problem click here.

Known for their work in the intersection of design and data, Stamen and SimpleGeo have joined forces in taking an interactive look at this issue. They take the PCI statistics, readily available on DataSF, and overlay them on a map of San Francisco. We look forward to seeing a lot less red in the future.

roads2

Roads with PCI of 0-49 shown in red, 40-69 in yellow [Image courtesy of San Francisco Department of Public Works]