Street Pavement Condition

How well are we maintaining our local streets?

Street Pavement Condition

Definition: 
Street pavement condition, more commonly referred to as the pavement condition index (PCI), reflects the quality of pavement on the region’s city streets and county roads. Calculated using a three-year moving average, PCI ranges from zero (failed) to 100 (brand-new) and has been used as a regional indicator of pavement preservation for over a decade.

The Bay Area’s local streets and roads form the foundation of the regional transportation system, providing access to jobs, homes, schools, shopping and recreation for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike. Preserving these facilities is essential to avoid the development of potholes. While pavement conditions in the region have remained remarkably stable on a year-to-year basis, actions to preserve local streets are evident on the city and county levels.

Regional Performance
The regional average PCI score increased by one point in 2016, a reflection of slow but steady improvements in recent years.

PCI has been relatively stable for the past decade, but it ticked upward to a new high of 67 in 2016 after years of stagnant performance, indicating that the typical local street or road is slightly smoother. Regional scores for street and road conditions have been generally stable for some time, ranging from 64 to 67 for the past decade. This puts our local streets and roads in “fair” condition. While local governments continue to work to improve their pavement condition, aging infrastructure remains a challenge for the region.

While the regional trend has been relatively stable in recent years, performance gains are more evident at the county level. San Francisco and Marin counties have registered the biggest improvements in PCI since 2010, gaining four and three points, respectively. Roads in Alameda, Napa and San Mateo counties have also seen improvement in PCI during the same period, while Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties have experienced slight declines in their countywide average PCI scores.

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Historical Trend for Street Pavement Condition - Bay Area

Regional Distribution
Most cities’ pavement conditions have changed only marginally over the past decade.

The majority of Bay Area cities – including San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland and Fremont – have seen minimal shifts in their average pavement condition scores over the past 10 years. Yet there have also been some notable success stories, particularly in smaller jurisdictions like El Cerrito. In 2006, El Cerrito’s roads were considered at risk due with an average PCI of 53. Over the next decade, sustained investment in local streets led to the city’s PCI increasing by a remarkable 31 points, the greatest improvement of any Bay Area city.

2016 Street Pavement Condition Distribution by City

Local Focus
Pavement conditions vary widely — not only from street to street, but also from city to city.

Pavement in the region’s two largest cities – San Jose and San Francisco – falls squarely into the “fair” range of the PCI scale. This performance level is not unique to the largest jurisdictions; approximately three-quarters of Bay Area cities have PCIs ranging between 60 and 79 (reflecting fair or good conditions). Notable exceptions include the region’s third most populous city, Oakland, along with its neighbors Berkeley and San Leandro – all of which have “at risk” PCIs between 50 and 59.

North Bay communities dominate the list of Bay Area communities with the lowest PCI scores. Among these are Larkspur, Petaluma, Vallejo and Cotati. Some of the region’s smoothest roads can be found in East Bay cities such as Brentwood, Dublin and El Cerrito. Not surprisingly, superior pavement conditions are often found in newer communities, where most streets were constructed in the last 20 years or so.

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2016 Street Pavement Condition by City and by Street Segment


Segment Details


Sources: 

Metropolitan Transportation Commission: StreetSaver (2003-2016)

Image: MTC Library (ID# Draper-55)

Methodology Notes: 

Pavement condition index (PCI) relies upon a three-year moving average for regional, county, and city PCI to improve the reliability of the PCI data on an annual basis. The index ranges from 0 to 100, with 0 representing a failed road and 100 representing a brand-new facility. Segment PCI data is collected on a rolling basis but is imputed for interim years based on facility age and treatments using the MTC StreetSaver system. Due to the lack of reported PCI data in 2006, the city of Palo Alto is not included in the Regional Distribution chart.