California DOT: State needs $5.7 billion more each year to maintain roads

Updated May 14, 2015

California welcome signCalifornia’s budget falls short on road funding to the tune of about $5.7 billion each year, according to the state’s Department of Transportation.

A Caltrans report said the department needs $8 billion annually over the next 10 years to pay for the management and improvement goals set for the state’s infrastructure. But the state only has $2.3 billion budgeted to go towards transportation projects.

According to the report, many of the roads and bridges in the state’s highway system were built well over 50 years ago and the department needs more money to continue to upgrade and maintain the state’s 50,000 highway lane miles and 13,000 bridges.

“An underlying assumption in keeping the (state highway system) in good condition is that there be sufficient revenue available to fund the needed improvements and preventative maintenance activities,” the report said. “Absent such expenditures, the (state highway system) will deteriorate and necessitate much more expensive remedies in the future and possibly force the closure of some facilities due to unacceptable conditions.”

Just 59 percent of the state’s highway lane miles are considered in good condition, according to the report. Another 25 percent require preventative maintenance treatment. And 16 percent of the state’s highway lane miles need major rehabilitation that is much more expensive than simple preventative measures like chip sealing or overlays.

The report said that since the funding is deficient, Caltrans would only be able to work on projects that are the most critical. But the department said that the percentage of roads in distressed condition would increase without maintenance.

“In the absence of new revenue sources, the condition of the (state highway system) will continue to deteriorate,” the Caltrans report said.

California lawmakers are currently debating the state’s budget, and Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to release a revision this week.