City streets in need of additional TLC, report finds

Palm Springs has approximately 245 miles of paved streets. The re-evaluation of the condition of those streets was recently presented to the City Council.
Cracks, ruts, potholes, you name it — like most cities, Palm Springs has streets that are constantly in need of repair. But are they any better or worse than they used to be? A study answers that question.

A recent study of the city’s roads concluded that there is room for improvement, and that the overall quality of the roads has dipped slightly since the last report of this kind several years ago.

Driving the news: At a Palm Springs City Council meeting last week, the Council received and filed the 2023 Pavement Management Program Update. That report revealed that the citywide “pavement condition index,” or the PCI, dropped by seven points since the last report in 2018 — meaning that the conditions of roads worsened from “satisfactory” to “fair.”

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What this means: The pavement index is scored from 0 to 100, with the numerical score indicating whether the condition is “very poor,” “poor,” “fair,” “satisfactory” or “good.”

By the numbers: In 2018, the citywide pavement index was rated at 73, or “satisfactory.” Satisfactory roads are classified as having little or no distress, with the exception of utility patches or minor to moderate hairline cracks.

  • This year’s report, meanwhile, showed that the city streets had degraded to 66, or “fair,” classified as light to moderate weathering and moderate linear cracking.

How it works: The pavement index is calculated using specialized software combined with physical inspections of streets.

  • The report said that some of the changes in PCI from year to year could be due to the city switching consultants and using different software in different years.

What happens next: The report laid out several options that the City Council could take:

  • If the Council chose to keep the budget where it is — at $6 million for reconstruction and $1 million for preventative maintenance — the index would decrease to 63.
  • If they were to allocate $8.75 million, the index would remain at 66. 
  • And if they chose to increase the budget even more to $15.5 million, the index would increase to 71.

Between the lines: If the city chose to spend more money now to get the roads up to a pavement condition index of 70, it would cost less in the long run to maintain that quality, the report said. 

Next steps: Right now, city staff is recommending that the Council spend $12 million a year on pavement management, which would yield an average index of 68 over the next five years. 

  • Thanks to the Measure J tax, the city is also able to maintain roads before they begin to deteriorate and need more expensive repairs.

See for yourself: If you consider the roads in your own neighborhood to be in poor condition, now you can see how experts classified it. Check out the report here, and scroll to the bottom to find a list of city streets and their ratings.


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