Highway Pavement Condition

How well are we maintaining our state highways?

Highway Pavement Condition

Highway pavement condition, measured by the share of highway lane-miles flagged as “distressed” by Caltrans, reflects the regional pavement quality on the highway system.

Our region built one of the nation’s most robust highway networks during the 20th century. But we now face a challenge – preserving thousands of miles of pavement across all nine counties. The trend has moved in the right direction in recent years. While one in three lane-miles of the Bay Area highway network was in distressed condition at the start of the millennium, three-quarters of the system is in fair or good condition today.

Regional Performance
While still better than past decades, Bay Area highway pavement conditions have gotten worse since 2013.

The percentage of Bay Area highway lane-miles with pavement in distressed condition increased from 21 percent in 2013 to 25 percent in 2015, but this remains 10 percentage points lower than the level registered nearly two decades ago. The recent dip in the regional highway pavement quality is attributed mainly to deterioration on the heavily-traveled I-580 and I-880 corridors in Alameda County. As state and local agencies rehabilitate and reconstruct roads in the most distressed conditions, highway segments across the region continue to deteriorate due to increasing age, traffic and unfavorable weather conditions.

Over the past decade, our region has benefited from pavement improvement projects such as those along Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 101 funded by the 2006 Proposition 1B bond measure and the 2009 federal stimulus package. With the passage of Senate Bill 1, which is forecast to generate billions more in funding for highway repairs, the Bay Area is well positioned to make further progress on this metric in the years to come.

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Historical Trend for Highway Pavement Condition - Bay Area

Local Focus
Pavement preservation for the region’s busiest freeways has been prioritized over other state highways.

The Bay Area’s best highway pavement conditions generally are found on major freeways, with Interstates 80 and 280 as well as U.S. 101 standing out in particular. These highways have among the highest traffic volumes of any Bay Area roadway. Pavement quality is significantly lower on many non-freeway routes, with 57 percent of the 231 lane-miles on State Route 82 (El Camino Real) and 38 percent of State Route 1 in distressed condition.

The Bay Area’s smoothest highways generally are found in suburban portions of the region – in Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Solano counties in particular. Heavy use of urban freeways in San Francisco has resulted in pavement conditions far worse than other Bay Area counties. Though San Francisco routes account for just 4 percent of all distressed highway pavement in the region, 39 percent of the highway lane-miles in the city are in poor shape.

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2015 Highway Pavement Condition

Select a highway segment on the map for more information.


California Department of Transportation: State of the Pavement Reports (2000-2015)

California Department of Transportation: Highway Pavement Condition Inventory (2015)

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Image: MTC Library, Photographer: Michele Stone (ID# P1030696)

Methodology Notes: 

Caltrans datasets only include regional performance on a historical basis and rely on "distressed" lane-mileage as an indicator for poor pavement condition. The geospatial data for 2015 provides the condition on each lane-mile for each segment of roadway; data on a corridor basis reflects a sum of all lane-mileage for that corridor.