Davis Street Condition Deteriorating – A Street Level View

potholeWe have reported for several weeks about Davis’ deteriorating road conditions.  The bad news is that the current road condition is only in the Good to Fair range, rating at a 71.  The bad news is that with funding levels as currently projected, our roads will continue to decline.

However to this point, we have only reported on the aggregate view of the city’s streets.  We have not had the data to look at it in terms of a few blocks at a time.  However, we now possess that data, and not surprisingly it is alarming.  We find that right now there are 220 streets in Davis receiving failing grades (out of 1021) in terms of their Pavement Condition Index (PCI).  Three are another 150 streets that will probably or possibly fall into the failing mark if they do not get repaired in the near future.

The Worst Streets in Davis

Four streets in Davis received a grade of less than 10.  Another received a grade of 19.  11 streets received grades of 20-29.


How bad is Hickory Lane and the section of Second Street?  They are basically rubble with no structural integrity left.  The good news is that they are not hugely traveled.

On the other hand, Olive Drive has very low PCI with many surface distresses according to the public works department, but it is in better shape in terms of structure because it sits on about 12 inches of concrete which is the old Lincoln Highway.  The system does not know the differences there because the surface distresses are what is input from visual inspections that are used to calculate the PCI.

The good news is that most of the worst road conditions are local and residential streets.  Olive Drive is the exception as it is a freeway on ramp.  These are rated 4s and 5s on a ten-point scale traffic index.  Larger arterials are rated an 8 or 9.  With 7s being major arterials within neighborhoods.


In looking only at traffic indexes of 7 or higher, we found that there were 47 failing street stretches, including ten on major arterials and two more with traffic indexs of 8 along Chiles and Arlington.

Cowell has a stretch between Lillard and Research Park where the PCI is 43.  First Street between B and E has a 46.  Fifth Street at F street is a 49.  B Street between First and Russell is a 51.  Covell by the Hospital is 56.  The rest of First Street is a 58, meaning the entire stretch from B to G is badly in need of repair.

Some of the worst conditions are on Traffic Indexes of 7.  We already mentioned Olive Drive, but there are two stretches of E street right downtown in bad shape.  Fourth Street between C and F is poor as well.

The bad news is that as we have previously reported, the streets may be in poor condition, but the overall condition of the city if anything is expected to deteriorate.

As the Vanguard has reported, the city for a number of years has maintained a road maintenance budget that is less approximately 800,000 dollars per year which is about 1.2 million dollars less than what is needed.  The result is the city has built up more than a five million dollar backlog of maintenance needs.

Acting public works director Bob Clarke gave a report to council. “In addition to the staffing cuts,” he reported, “our approximately $1 million a year road maintenance budget is down to $250,000 next year, which won’t buy us much pavement out in the field next year.”

“Some thing you’ll see immediately, some things won’t be apparent immediately but they will be impacts.  Recovering from some of them will take awhile,” he said.  “Much as my analogy would be if we don’t maintain our streets when we can do it cost effectively eventually they will fall apart and the cost to repair them will be much much more significant.”


Currently, we have a rating of 71 which is not that good – it is on the border of good and fair.  We have a maintenance backlog of $5.7 million.  They key thing is what happens at different levels of funding.

If we maintain the current level of funding of $800,000 per year, by 2012 we will drop to a 68, a “fair” rating and the maintenance backlog will be $11.7 million.

To stay at 71, we need to fund at $1.5 million per year but even then the maintenance backlog will be $9.1 million

If we maintain our current backlog, that will increasing funding to $2.1 million and raise our rating to 76.  (Caveat: I’m not sure how that works exactly).

To eliminate the backlog by 2012, we would have to pay $3.4 million annual and that would get us to an 80 in the good range.


The problem is that right now we do not even have funding to maintain our previous funding level.  And so it may be that the 68 rating will be optimistic.  The city seems to be counting on federal transportation dollars to come forward, but if they do not or if they are insufficient, we may have to start dipping into either redevelopment to pave the core areas or the general fund.

The council is going to have to find money whether it is by allocating redevelopment money in the core, transferring money from the general fund, or locating additional grants and other funding sources.  This needs to be a priority of the new council.

One thing to bear in mind, Davis has staked it’s reputation as a bike friendly city, that is going to be difficult to maintain if the pavement on the edges of the streets continues to deteriorate, which means the bike lanes will become more and more problematic and dangerous.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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