Oakland's Pothole Blitz by the Numbers



This week, Oakland launched its annual pothole blitz. A word like blitz is guaranteed to garner attention, and sure enough, twelve reporters showed up at Public Works’ opening-day press conference to get the story on the city’s ramped-up efforts to repair its run-down streets, said spokesperson Kristine Shaff. Two years ago we gave more than 1,000 words to pothole repair, too. But like most things in Oakland these days, behind the good news is a massive helping of bad news. The pothole blitz is a tiny Band Aid on an open wound, and only addresses streets that are still in generally good shape. Streets bad enough to require repaving are overlooked, because the city can’t afford it. Here’s the full story, as told by the numbers themselves.

Oakland’s streets:
Miles of city-maintained streets: 806
Lifespan of urban streets: 25-30 years
Average age of Oakland’s streets: 85 years
Percentage of Oakland’s streets in good condition: 40
Ranking of Oakland’s streets in 2010 Metropolitan Transportation Commission survey: 98th out of 109 Bay Area cities

Funding picture:
Annual cost to maintain current condition of Oakland’s streets: $28 million
Last year state funding for street repair: $18 million
Current year funding: $9.3 million ($7 million federal, $2.3 million state)
Next year total funding (anticipated): $6.3 million
Street repair backlog: $435 million
California gas tax in 1994, which is primary source of state funding for street repair: 18 cents per gallon
California gas tax in 2011: 18 cents per gallon

Pothole blitz:
First instituted: 2006
Duration: 4 weeks
Crew sizes: 8, as opposed to typical 4 (for the next four weeks, workers have been diverted from other jobs to focus on potholes)
Cost: $200,000
Potholes fixed: more than 2,000
Year-round Public Works number to call in potholes for repair: 510-615-5566