By Steve Scauzillo, August 19, 2013
Motorists drive in traffic on the I-5 freeway east of the 605-freeway in
Santa Fe Springs on Molnday August 19, 2013. A national report says
California's interstates record the most vehicle miles than any other
California freeways logged nearly 85 billion miles in 2011, enough to
complete 900 trips from the Earth to the Sun, according to a report
from the U.S. Department of Transportation released Monday.
Golden State easily led all 50 states in vehicle miles traveled, with
Texas — a distant second — at 55.7 billion miles, and Florida at 34.7
billion miles placing third.
The single busiest interstate in the
nation was the 5 Freeway, recording 21.4 billion miles in California.
The 10 Freeway and the 110 Harbor Freeway were the second and third most
traveled in the nation, respectively. Last, but certainly not least, is
the 405 Freeway, which was crowned the busiest interstate in any city
in America averaging 379,000 vehicles each day.
No one who has driven any of these freeways is terribly surprised
by the No. 1 ranking. Neither were local transportation officials, who
said the state’s size, population, economy and strategic positioning
that includes the two busiest ports in the nation combine to make
California the country’s largest mover of people and goods.
it is good there is recognition that there is such a high demand in
this region, there are not enough transportation dollars to meet those
needs,” said Frank Quon, executive officer for highway project delivery
for Metro, the large transportation agency in Los Angeles County.
California receives on average about $3.5 billion in federal
transportation funds each year, according to Maria Raptis, spokeswoman
for Caltrans District 7 in Southern California.
That amount represents about 10 percent of the yearly funding allocated by the feds, she wrote in an email.
pointed out that the federal gasoline tax has remained at 18.4 cents
per gallon since October 1993, nearly 20 years. With more fuel efficient
cars on the roadways, less gasoline tax per mile traveled is collected.
In short, the federal gasoline tax revenues, which are used for road
projects, have not kept up with demand.
Caltrans is in the midst of a highway project bonanza, with heavy
work ongoing at the 405/22 near Long Beach, the 405 in the Sepulveda
Pass, the 60 Freeway in Rowland Heights and the 10 and 605 freeways
interchange in Baldwin Park. All told, Caltrans has 744 projects working
today at a cost of nearly $12 billion, Raptis said.
Much of the
freeway repair dollars — about $2.4 billion — comes from the Recovery
Act and from the statewide ballot measure Prop. 1B. But as these funding
sources dry up, Caltrans expects transportation funding will decline.
Metro has used funds from taxpayer-approved ballot measures such
as Props. A and C and 2008’s Measure R to fund roadway and transit
projects. In short, county taxpayers have taxed themselves.
is putting up the money to make investments (in roads and transit), but
there is still a funding need,” Quon said. “We would like to see more
federal money come to California.”
Quon would like to see
Congress, which recently took a swing at passing transportation funding
bills but missed, look at the DOT report and reconsider the issue,
especially the allocation for California. Earlier this month, Senate
Republicans blocked a $54 billion funding measure for highways, rail and
other transportation projects.
“Data like these help us better understand the highway system and
its needs,” said Victor Mendez, an administrator with the Federal
Overall, vehicles traveled 2.95 trillion
miles on U.S. roads in 2011, according to the report. This marked the
eighth-highest amount ever recorded. Travel on U.S. highways has doubled
The DOT took credit for improving more than 331,000 miles of roads using federal dollars during the last four years.
report also calculated a “mean pavement roughness” which gives values
of 0-95 for “good,” and 96-170 for “acceptable.” The 10 Freeway received
a value of 129; the 210 Freeway received a 164 and the 405 Freeway, 163. Northern California’s 380 Freeway in the Bay Area received a 201 value, not acceptable, the worst in the state.