California has crumbling roads — some of the nation's worst. Last year national transportation group TRIP said that Angelenos alone pay $2,458 a year for "extra vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on roads in need of repair."
Now we find out that the Golden State has some of the nation's deadliest roads, too.
The same organization, TRIP, this week said that California is the state with the second-highest number of rural-road deaths. That number is 1,038 for the last year examined, 2013. We were beat by Texas, which saw 1,462 such fatalities that year.
When fatalities per miles traveled were calculated, the Golden State fared better, ranking sixth in the nation by that metric. TRIP says we have 2.83 deaths for every 100 million miles of rural road traveled.
The national average is 1.09 deaths.
The report, "Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland," doesn't draw a direct line between rural traffic deaths and infrastructure, but it does suggest that our inability to keep up with road repairs and maintenance is a culprit.
"Rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies," the document states. " ... They lack many desirable safety features."
A summary says we need "repairs and modernization to support economic growth:"
The report ... found that rural roads and bridges in California have significant deficiencies. In 2014, 12 percent of California’s rural bridges were rated as structurally deficient, the 20th highest rate in the nation. Sixteen percent of California’s major rural roads were rated in poor condition in 2013, the 23rd highest rate nationally.
"California lawmakers are pressed to find ways to overcome the fiscal cliff in transportation funding," says Associated General Contractors chief executive officer Tom Holsman.
The state with the highest number of fatalities per 100 million miles is Connecticut, followed by No. 2 South Carolina, third-place Florida, fifth-place Arizona and Montana at No. 5, according to TRIP.
The safety of our families is at stake. (Who hasn't taken the old 395 to Tahoe?).
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But deadly roads are also an economic issue, TRIP argues. The Golden State, even with this historic drought, supplies much of the nation's produce. Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation:
... Deteriorated and deficient rural roads and bridges are hindering our nation’s agricultural goods from reaching markets at home and abroad and slowing the pace of economic growth in rural America.
Chew on that.