Route 163
Route 163 in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

California’s roads get a “D” and both its bridges and public transit a “C-” in a report card released Wednesday by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

“Across all three categories that comprise the state’s surface transportation network, significant maintenance backlogs and congestion choke points account for the dismal grades,” the ASCE said.

The report card by the society’s California members found 44 percent of the Golden State’s major roads are in poor condition, while 37 percent are in mediocre or fair condition.

California bridges account for 13 of the top 25 most traveled structurally deficient bridges in the United States, and half the state’s bridges have exceeded their design life.

The report said that the new statewide transportation funding provided through Senate Bill 1 — the gas tax increase — is already helping to address the maintenance backlog.

“Safe and reliable transportation is critical to meet the demands of California’s growing population and maintain the state’s status as the world’s fifth largest economy. With $5 billion annually hanging in the balance, the grades could quickly decline if these investments do not come to fruition,” said John Hogan, co-chair of the ASCE’s California Infrastructure Report Card Committee.

“By defeating Prop. 6 in November, voters can ensure the funding from SB 1 will continue to provide critical funding for roads, bridges and transit,” he added.

Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio is spearheading the effort to overturn the 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase. Opponents of the tax say a more efficient state government could maintain California’s roads without increasing taxes.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.