Getting back on track: San Diego’s plans to repair roads

The city has identified declining road quality, but has conducted studies to find ways to improve conditions.

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An intersection in La Jolla closed for resurfacing.

Photo via @cityofsandiego

We feel it too — there are a few bumps in the road around San Diego. The city has conducted reports that demonstrate declining street conditions, but efforts are underway to smooth things over and improve road quality.

Getting back on track

Last year, San Diego completed a Street Condition Assessment for the first time since 2016. According to the study’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI), streets were rated as “fair” with a score of 63 out of 100. This is a decline from the “satisfactory” score of 71 in 2016.

The city’s goal: to reach a PCI of 70, which is the industry standard. To do this, the Transportation Department released its Pavement Management Plan (PMP) that outlines road repair goals over the next five years. Key suggestions include:

  • A call for more funding, averaging $188 million annually
  • An effort to maintain streets before repairs are necessary
  • Specific repairs and funding to address “unimproved” streets and alleys
Slurry seal being applied to a street near Balboa Park.

Slurry seal is a cost-effective maintenance treatment.

Photo via @cityofsandiego

A second look

Last week, the Office of the City Auditors released a report on San Diego’s Street Maintenance Program covering the city’s 3,000 miles of streets. The report calls the PMP a “major step forward,” but identifies areas for improvement.

Specifically, the report suggests more frequent street audits so maintenance can be more intentional. It also calls for a more comprehensive funding plan and estimates the city would need $1.9 billion to meet its 10-year street repair goals, but has only identified $645 million in funding.

According to the PMP, road conditions are expected to decline 29% by 2034 — to a PCI of 45 — if anticipated funding levels remain unchanged.

In fiscal year 2024, San Diego allocated $140 million to road repairs and maintenance, $90+ million more than in fiscal year 2023. However, the city is not projected to maintain that level of funding in future years.

The city has also reported recent improvements. In 2023, crews resurfaced or repaired 254 miles of roads and filled 61,300 potholes — a 94% increase from 2022. The city also launched StreetsSD, its interactive street repairs map.

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