Caltrans: State highways in great health, pavement-wise

SACRAMENTO - Think California's highways are bad?

State officials say they might not be as bad as you think.

Caltrans has released its latest State of the Pavement  report, which finds that the pavement on the state's highways is at its healthiest level in more than a decade.

An estimated 84 percent of the pavement on the state's highway system was healthy in 2013, compared to 75 percent in 2011. That's an increase of 4,500 miles of smoother pavement.

Nearly 35 million vehicles travel the state's aging highway system each year, according to Caltrans. The department surveys the condition of its pavement each year to determine how much of the system needs maintenance.

Annual maintenance needs far outpace dependable funding, but the department has been working to find new strategies to make pavement last longer while stretching every dollar. That includes recycling and innovative treatments, among other tactics. Using what's called cold-in-place recycling in addition to using a rubberized hot-mix asphalt and warm-mix asphalt has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 61,000 tons, according to Caltrans officials.

Federal funds have helped pay for nearly $4 billion in pavement projects in the past four years as well.  More information about pavement health and other road maintenance conditions can be found online in the Caltran's publication, "Mile Marker."

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