HMB roads among the worst in the county

Posted by on Fri, January 30, 2009


With a pavement condition index (PCI) of 59, Half Moon Bay’s roads are worse than those of just about every city in the county, except Millbrae and East Palo Alto, according to a ranking [pdf] by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The MTC classified the city’s roads as "at risk".

PCI scores of 90 or higher are considered "excellent." These are newly built or resurfaced streets that show little or no distress. Pavement with a PCI score in the 80 to 89 range is characterized as "very good," and shows only slight or moderate distress, requiring mostly preventive maintenance. The "good" category ranges from 70 to 79, while streets with PCI scores in the "fair" (60-69) range are becoming worn to the point where rehabilitation may be needed to prevent rapid deterioration. Because major repairs cost five to 10 times more than routine maintenance, these streets are at an especially critical stage. Roadways with PCI scores of 50 to 59 are deemed "at-risk," while those with PCI scores of 25 to 49 are considered "poor." These roads require major rehabilitation or reconstruction. Pavement with a PCI score below 25 is considered "failed." These roads are difficult to drive on and need reconstruction.

"All around the Bay Area, and especially in our rural areas and older cities," noted Dodd, "we see a lot of streets and roads with PCIs below 60, which is the point when pavement begins going downhill fast. One of our priorities is to make sure we invest in both preventive maintenance and in rehabilitation."

San Mateo County roads finished in the middle of the pack, but the roads in the unincorporated Midcoast are almost certainly worse.

Okay, one way to consider this:

1) We’re in good company as the other cities scoring between 50-59 in the category of “At Risk” are fine rural ‘burbs such as San Anselmo, Calistoga, Petaluma, Napa, and St. Helena.  Fine cities with whom to be associated.

2) The cities with the “Very Good” and “Good” top scores are all cities that this reader considers well-managed, albeit not my kind of towns:  Brentwood, Los Altos, Foster City, Oakley, and the fastest growing ‘burb of them all, Gilroy.

In fact, not one of the Top 30 high scoring cities still retains its rural, or localism, charm.  They’re all changeover towns - towns whose elderly population has died out, the young families have moved in and improved the place with new neighborhoods and rebuilt old homes.

So, the good news is, we may have crummy streets, but we ain’t dead yet, and we still know who each other are!  Let’s try to hold onto what we got and not keep up with the Joneses.


Comment 2
Fri, January 30, 2009 6:46pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

Two good points.

I’ll also note that if you look at the rankings, that HMB has increased their score from 53 to 59 over the last three years.

Yes, and we’ve remained in this 50-59 “At-Risk” category for the past 4 years.  In fact, upon further scan of the table, most cities remain within their own category over the 4 year tracking, giving us an indication that, perhaps, once an “At-Risk,” always an “At-Risk?”

Comment 4
Sat, January 31, 2009 7:41am
Barry Parr
All my comments

My guess is the two biggest determinants of road quality are when the road was built and how good a job you did when you built it.  And that quality of maintenance is necessary, buy no sufficient.