Any Oaklander knows that our streets are in terrible condition. With a paving backlog of almost $450 million, Oakland ranks 89th out of 106 bay area cities in paving quality. Oakland’s paving cycle is 85 years long – when most cities with roads in good repair have a paving cycle closer to 25 years. We need to shake up the funding status quo if we hope to have better streets in our lifetime, and that’s why Transport Oakland is supporting the $600 million Oakland Infrastructure Bond.
The City currently uses its limited paving funds in the most cost-effective way possible: 80 percent used to extend the life of major streets that are already in fair-to-good condition, and 20 percent for local residential streets and the streets in the worst condition. Given that rebuilding a failed street is 10-20 times more expensive than maintaining a street in good condition, very few of Oakland’s worst streets get rebuilt each year. Oakland’s $443 million paving backlog is so big, and the costs of repairing our worst streets are so prohibitively expensive, that today’s paving program is unable to even tread water.
The proposed Oakland Infrastructure Bond represents a transformative opportunity to wipe out the backlog over the next ten years, repave Oakland’s worst streets, and finally put the City in a position to keep all of our streets in good repair for decades to come. The infrastructure bond will be transformative other ways, too. The bond will, for the first time, require investments be evaluated on the basis of social equity – prioritizing streets in Oakland’s most disadvantaged and historically disinvested neighborhoods.A dramatic increase in paving creates an opportunity to address crucial safety and mobility issues across the city, improving streets so that residents are safe and comfortable whether they are driving, walking, bicycling, or taking transit.
The bond goes hand-in-hand with the new Oakland Department of Transportation which has been set up to provide the needed set-up to plan great projects and deliver them efficiently.
While Transport Oakland’s priorities have been focused on the transportation component of the bond, we wholeheartedly support the bond’s $100 million investment to expand and preserve protected affordable housing as well as a $150 million investment in our local libraries, community centers, parks and fire stations.
Check out the materials presented at Council during the approval actions last month for more of the details.