State Pays Drivers for Poor Road Conditions

Rough roads cost each Bay Area driver over $700 a year

By Elyce Kirchner, Mark Villarreal and Kevin Nious
|  Wednesday, Aug 1, 2012  |  Updated 1:57 PM PDT
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Hundreds of Bay Area drivers are filing damage claims with the Department of Transportation to recoup the money spent on repairs as a result of Rough Roads. Elyce Kirchner reports. 08/01/12 - 01:16AM PT

Hundreds of Bay Area drivers are filing damage claims with the Department of Transportation to recoup the money spent on repairs as a result of Rough Roads. Elyce Kirchner reports. 08/01/12 - 01:16AM PT

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“It’s a total waste of money. They should just fill the potholes,” said East Bay resident Diane Peters.

Peters is one of hundreds of California drivers documenting poor road conditions and fighting for their money back.

She filed a claim with the Department of Transportation after a pothole on Interstate 680 caused more than $2,000 worth of damage to her vehicle.

“Four tires and two rims because of this one pothole,” Peters explained.

CalTrans estimates that approximately 1,500 Bay Area drivers a year are filing damage claims against the state, hoping to recoup the money spent on repairs from bad roads.

We spoke with several maintenance shops across the Bay Area who shared similar stories about drivers feeling the pain. 

Mechanic Chad Menconi says his shop in Concord has seen a “50-percent increase on parts and damaged components for steering and suspension,” that he attributes to rough roads.

According to a national transportation research group called TRIP, local drivers are paying more than $700 a year in additional vehicle maintenance costs from driving on rough roads.

In fact, Bay Area roads are so poor, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded our roadways a D+ in 2011.

“If you came home with a D+ grade, your dad would take a dim view of that.  We should take a dim view of that as well,” said Mike Kincade, chair of the ASCE.

Caltrans is responsible for maintaining more than 50,000 miles of state highways, including Bay Area roads.

We took a look at the department’s maintenance records to find out where your car is most likely to take a beating.

 

The areas that received the most pothole repairs since 2002 were:

  • 580 in Alameda County
  • 101 in Sonoma County
  • 101 in Santa Clara County.

Records also show that maintenance work on potholes has increased over the last decade; however, that has not curbed the complaints. Requests for pothole maintenance have also increased by 33-percent in 2011 compared to pothole maintenance requests in 2010.

Caltrans asserts that they have met their goal to keep distressed pavement below 30-percent. 

However, “Maintenance and rehabilitation needs on the State Highway System far exceed available funding. Limited resources are focused on safety-related work as the top priority. Caltrans maintenance crews look for and repair minor pavement cracks every day.”

Peters received a full reimbursement of more than two thousand dollars from the state for her car’s pothole damage, but maintains she would have preferred to avoid the headache altogether. 

Since 2007, almost $200 million dollars in damage claims have been filed against Caltrans for bad roads.

CLICK HERE to file a claim if your car has been damaged by rough roads.
 

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