We’ve mapped the cities with the worst roads in America by their percentage of poor, mediocre, fair, and good roads. From potholes to poor infrastructure funding, these least-drivable cities may surprise you!
The city with the highest percentage of poor-condition roads is Concord, California, which costs locals more than a thousand dollars per motorist annually in vehicle operating costs.
Three-fourths of all roads in Concord are ranked as poor. Only 5% of the roads are in good condition. Luckily, research like this may have produced results; roadwork on its major commuting routes will hopefully begin soon. Meanwhile, the locals who pay the most in operating costs are in Oklahoma City, OK, which is home to 53% poor and 30% mediocre roads. They pay $1,025.
The San Francisco-Oakland metropolitan area isn’t far behind, with 71% of its roads in poor condition.
The Bay Area of California as a whole has poor road conditions for a variety of reasons, one of which is that its roads are paved on top of sandy dunes. The roads have since been buckled by earthquakes. Also, the infrastructure funding in the city is notoriously low due to the fact that there was no increase in the base excise tax for gas in the state for more than a decade. Again, hopefully, this will change soon, with the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 having been passed in the state recently.
On the whole, 32% of all American urban roadways are in unacceptable condition.
TRIP, the private nonprofit that compiled this data using the International Roughness Index, has cited several reasons why these roads are in such poor condition:
- Population and vehicle travel as a whole have increased since 2000 and since the recession.
- Poor choices in pavement materials and technology for the level of moisture in the area leads to faster deterioration.
- To maintain the life cycle of pavement, roads should be maintained regularly even if they’re still in “good” condition, and much funding and action is in reaction to poor conditions.
- Pothole patches need to be made with more effective materials. In a separate study, 56% of pothole patches were effective over a four-year period.
- There is currently a $112 billion backlog of needed bridge rehabilitation, a mounting problem as more than 54,000 of our bridges are “structurally deficient.”
To fix this problem, we would need more aggressive maintenance programs enforced on a federal or local level. Which communities are doing a good job, and who should we be modeling our efforts after?
The city with the highest percentage of good-condition roads is Tallahassee, Florida, with 79% good roads.
Many of the best-ranking cities on this list are in Florida, a state famous for very little wear and tear. But oddly, Syracuse, New York, a city famous for its salt and its horrific winter weather, has the lowest vehicle operating costs, even though only 40% of its roads are in good condition. A relatively poor city, Syracuse attacks its pothole problems with data and ambitious programs.
Another excellent city outside of Florida is Eugene, Oregon. They may have 76% good roads because of a smaller population, but they also may have excellent roads because so many people use them to run and bike Perhaps that’s part of the answer: Use roads less often.