• Yizheng Wang

San Diego Roads- Where to Go?

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

Ever since human beings started to use transportations to travel, the road condition has been a significant concern. Today, the road has gradually become a measurement of a city’s prosperity. Not only does the awful road condition damages your car alignment, but it also increases the possibility of car accidents. Regardless of all the potential dangers above, drivers, myself included, want neat roads that make driving enjoyable. Imagine 85 percent of Americans have to suffer the bumpy roads while driving to work every day. As part of California, a state has the most automobile registrations in the U.S, San Diego has also been working on a tremendous amount of road repairs every year. And thus, the fact that San Diego citizens actually care a lot about the road repairs is not a surprise. Local websites are filled with neighbors’ complaints and even petitions, as many believe that politicians use up the budgets in other relatively unimportant places. Meanwhile, radical San Diegans are ready to get their feet wet by doing more research on this topic. Now there are several questions to keep in mind before digging any deeper: first and foremost, what are the causes of these bumpy roads? Secondly, what has the government done, and what hasn’t been done regarding the road repairs? Most importantly, what is the alternatives?

What is worse than heavy traffic for drivers? A pothole. Potholes, which are small bowl-shaped depressions in the pavement surface, will ruin your tires and wheels, and sometimes even cause airbags to deploy. To get rid of the bumpy roads, San Diego municipal government has to repair more than 30,000 potholes annually. (City of San Diego Official Website, Accessed 2020) Yet, there are still a considerable amount of car accidents happened because of potholes. These potholes showed up mainly because water seeps into cracks, and the asphalt fails with the vibration of the tires over the crack. The good news is that everyone can report the potholes unaddressed and follow up on their request afterward. There are approximately 13,600 repair requests since January 2018, and most of the requests were solved in 22 days. But in some rare cases, the requests were remained pending for up to a year. (Schroeder, 2019)

As a matter of fact, San Diego’s target is to keep the citywide streets at a rating of at least 70 in the assessment, which is used for a contractor to determine the road condition. In the assessment, a contractor would typically rate the road condition by poor, fair, or good. Poor streets are those with scores below 40, while a score from 40 to 69 indicates a fair condition. Scores above 70 are good road conditions. (Halverstadt, 2019) In a 2007 report released by TRIP, a national transportation research group, San Diego was one of the ten large urban regions (more than 500,000 people) with the poorest pavements in the major roads and highways. Mayor Faulconer pledged to fix 1,000 miles of streets within five years. He kept his promise and finished fixing 1,000 miles of streets by 2018. In spite of the great work done by the government and mayor, the statistics in the August 2018 TRIP report still demonstrate more work to do in the future. In the report, it writes:

“In the San Diego urban area, 64 percent of major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Thirty-four percent of the San Diego urban area’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition and 30 percent are in mediocre condition. Nineteen percent are in fair condition and the remaining 17 percent are in good condition.” (Transportation by the Numbers, 2018)

Admittedly, certain efforts have been made by the government to address the road issue. They tripled the road repair funding and made contractors responsible for their work. Additionally, the government expanded the infrastructure program, increasing its capacity to fix up to 300 miles of the street each year. (The City of San Diego, 2018) Nevertheless, the outcome is not desirable for many of us. Do we have other options with higher efficiency and lower expense? Private contractors would definitely be an option, but it may demand more financial support. The private contractors usually charge twice or even more than the state workers. (Barrett& Greene, 2009) The innovative way to deal with this road problem is plastic. The plastic road is not a new concept as countries like India and Australia have already tested its viability. This is a great way to eliminate plastic waste hazardous to the environment and animals. The roads made out of recycled plastic are proved to be more durable with increased marshall stability value. The bottom line is no potholes or stripping because of its better resistance towards rain and water stagnation. This impressive innovation also increases load withstanding property, fulfilling the task of supporting more transportations on the road. According to the features above, plastic roads have a low cost during the construction, and the maintenance fee is close to nil. (Gawande, 2013) Those savings from road construction and maintenance could be reallocated to other places in need.



2. Zhou, L. (2019). Roads: Policy Brief. Lily Zhou 2020.

3. Halverstadt, L. (2019, February 1). Why Some Streets Get Repaired Over Others. Voice of San Diego.

4. Mayor Faulconer Delivers on Pledge to Fix 1,000 Miles of Streets. The City of San Diego.

5. California's Bumpy Roads Put State At Top of Worst Roads List . . . Again. The Auto Channel.

6. San Diego Transportation by the Numbers. (August, 2018). TRIP. Aug_2018.pdf .

7. Potholes. Street Division. City of San Diego Official Website. . Accessed July. 2020.

8. Schroeder, L. (30 Jan. 2019). It takes more than a month to fix a San Diego pothole. The San Diego Union Tribune. .

9. AASHTO. Rough Roads Ahead - Technology Transfer Center.

10. Barrett, K., & Greene, R. (2009, June). Who Should Fix the Potholes? Governing.

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