El Cerrito again has been lauded by the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission for exemplary improvement in its streets.
The agency's latest report card on the Bay Area's local roads, "Pavement Condition Of Bay Area Jurisdictions 2011," found that the region as whole suffers from a disappointing record on road quality, chiefly because of lack of funds.
But the citizens of El Cerrito managed to achieve a remarkable turnaround in their streets by their willingness to pass a citywide sales tax increase for road improvements, the MTC said in a news release accompanying the report card.
"We have seen big improvements in places like El Cerrito, which passed a half-cent sales tax in 2008 to finance a citywide street improvement program," said the Oct. 29 release.
A year ago, El Cerrito was honored with the MTC's "Most Improved Roads" award for the dramatic improvement in its streets between 2006 and 2010. In rankings of 109 Bay Area cities and counties on a pavement condition index (PCI), El Cerrito streets went from near the bottom to tying for second best.
ln 2010, El Cerrito scored 85 out of a possible 100 for its single-year PCI, tying for second place with Belvedere, behind first-place Brentwood, which scored 88. In 2006, El Cerrito's PCI was a lowly 48, which tied for third from the bottom.
The improvement was brought about in part through the 2008 voter approval of Measure A, a half-cent sales tax dedicated to street repair.
The latest data from MTC shows that El Cerrito's single-year PCI score for 2011 dropped slightly to 83, placing it in third place behind Dublin and Brentwood, which are tied for first and second with 84.
Scores in the 80-89 range are considered "very good," with 70-79 considered "good," and 60-69 ranked as "fair," according to the MTC. Those in 50-59 range are considered "at risk," while 25-49 is classified "poor."
The MTC report card does not list single-year PCI scores but opts instead for what it calls the "three-year moving average," which is the average of the immediately previous three years.
Because El Cerrito's single-year PCI score for 2008-09 was only 50, its 2011 three-year average PCI in the latest MTC report card is 73 in the "good" range. (The years 2008 and 2009 were combined into a single year.)
"The lowest-ranked pavement in the Bay Area was found in the Marin County city of Larkspur and the Napa County city of St. Helena, each of which recorded a PCI score of 44 for the 2009-11 period," the MTC said.
“There are a lot of streets and roads around the Bay Area with PCI scores below 60,” said MTC Chair Adrienne Tissier, a San Mateo County Supervisor. “That’s the point when the deterioration of pavement really accelerates." She was quoted in the news release.
Other localities with the most recent three-year averages below 60 include Albany (58), Berkeley (59), Napa (58), Oakland (57), Orinda (48), Petaluma (52), San Leandro (56), Vallejo (51), unincorporated Marin County (52) and unincorporated Sonoma County (45), the MTC said.
“One of the Commission’s top priorities is to restore the Bay Area’s transportation system to a state of good repair,” Tissier said. “For local streets and roads, that target has been frustratingly elusive. And the main issue, not surprisingly, is money.”