Portland’s Pothole Problem

An audit of Portland’s street conditions and road management is surprisingly dramatic. The Portland Bureau of Transportation audit finds that the city has “not adequately protected the condition of street pavement…”, noting preventative maintenance has just not been a city priority.

  • More than one-third of the city’s streets are in “poor condition”
  • About 10% are in “very poor condition” – meaning they are un-repairable
  • The estimated cost just to repair and reconstruct existing streets is $750 million over the next 10 years.

Fixing streets determined to be in “poor condition” costs a lot more money than maintaining streets in good condition.

Portland is not alone: many cities have a bad pattern of fixing the worst streets first. When revenue goes down—as it has—limited funding is used to fix a few failed streets instead of keeping all the other streets up to standards.

Road maintenance funding has been competing with large projects like the Sellwood Bridge replacement ($86 million) and the Milwaukie, Oregon light-rail extension ($55 million).

This is alarming for many Oregonians. Not only are cracked and crumbling roads a traffic problem, they cause damage and wear-and-tear to vehicles, and they are a factor in a number of bike crashes and car accidents.

We will all pay for the roads, one way or another.

Drivers in the U.S. pay an average of $400 a year in vehicle deterioration, maintenance, and increased gas costs from bad road conditions.

See the report: Street Pavement: Condition shows need for better stewardship