TRIP report shows 28% of U.S. major urban roads are in substandard or poor condition

Updated Jul 27, 2015

San Francisco Traffic

The Road Improvement Program’s (TRIP) recent report on major urban roads finds that 28 percent, including Interstates and freeways, are in substandard or poor condition providing “an unacceptably rough ride to motorists.”

Only 31 percent are in good condition, while the remaining 41 percent are in mediocre or fair condition. When counting major rural roads, TRIP says, 42 percent are in good condition, 40 percent are mediocre or fair, and 18 percent are poor.

For reference, TRIP used the Federal Highway Administration’s data gathered in 2013 using the International Roughness Index (IRI) and the Present Service Rating. An IRI value of 170 or more categorizes a road as substandard or poor. A PSR of 2.5 or lower represents substandard or poor conditions. Mediocre roads have an IRI of 120-170 and PSR of 2.6-3.0, fair roads have a 95-119 IRI and 3.1-3.4 PSR, and good roads have an IRI of 94 or less and PSR of 3.5 or more.

“The nation’s rough roads stress nerves and cost billions in unnecessary vehicle replacement, repair and fuel costs,” said Jill Ingrassia, AAA managing director of government relations and traffic safety advocacy. “Full investment in our nation’s transportation system will reduce the financial burden on drivers and provide them with a smoother, safer and more efficient ride.”

“The long-term preservation and maintenance of our national transportation system depends on federal investment,” said Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).  “We can do better than the uncertainty of short-term extensions. America needs Congress to fully fund a multi-year surface transportation bill.”

In the report, TRIP ranked road conditions and additional vehicle maintenance costs due to those road conditions of the top 25 urban populations in two categories; 500,000 or greater in population, and between 250,000 and 500,000 in population.

In the largest category, the San Francisco-Oakland, California, area held the top spot in both percentage of poor roads (74 percent) and highest vehicle maintenance costs related to road conditions per motorist ($1,044).

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For urban areas with between 250,000 and 500,000 people, Flint, Michigan, held the top spot in poor road conditions at 54 percent, while the Temecula-Murrieta, California, area was first in additional vehicle maintenance costs at $857.

Top 10 urban regions with 500,000 or more people, % poor road conditions

1. San Francisco-Oakland, California                        74%

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-                                         73%
Santa Ana, California

3. Concord, California                                                   62%

4. Detroit, Michigan                                                      56%

5. San Jose, California                                                  53%

6. Cleveland, Ohio                                                         52%

7. New York-Newark, New York                                 51%

8. San Diego, California                                                51%

9. Grand Rapids, Michigan                                          51%

10. Honolulu, Hawaii                                                      51%

Top 10 urban regions with 250,000-500,000 people, % poor road conditions

1. Flint, Michigan                                                           54%

2. Antioch, California                                                    52%

3. Santa Rosa, California                                              49%

4. Trenton, New Jersey                                                 48%

5. Temecula-Murrieta, California                               47%

6. Scranton, Pennsylvania                                            46%

7. Reno, Nevada                                                             46%

8. Spokane, Washington                                               44%

9. Jackson, Mississippi                                                  44%

10. Lansing, Michigan                                                    44%