How California’s recall election might change the state’s course on infrastructure
Photo 186548103 © Waltercicchetti |


How California’s recall election might change the state’s course on infrastructure

The increasingly sorry state of some of California's infrastructure is a key issue for many Californians.  

California voters deciding whether or not to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom have a lot of things to consider and policy changes they could demand.  As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, voters may be thinking about the state’s response to COVID-19, taxes, housing prices, disparate economic outcomes for workers, or even political leaders who don’t always follow the very rules they impose on others. The increasingly sorry state of some of California’s infrastructure is another key issue for many Californians.  

The 2021 infrastructure report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers gives California a C-,  which is worse than the C the state received in 2012. As the state’s economy has grown, so has state infrastructure spending, up to about $12 billion per year recently, but the condition of California’s infrastructure keeps getting worse. 

Similarly, Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report found California’s state-controlled highways cost taxpayers a lot of money but are in relatively poor condition:

In 2020 California’s highway system ranked 43rd in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is no change from the previous report, where California also ranked 43rd overall.

In safety and performance categories, California ranks 18th in overall fatality rate, 24th in structurally deficient bridges, 45th in traffic congestion, 44th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 41st in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, California ranks 42nd in total spending per mile and 40th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

In this recent episode of Pacific Research Institute’s Next Round podcast, I discussed my chapter on infrastructure in their new book “Saving California,” which aims to provide policy reforms for the state.

We discussed why the state needs to take the politics out of its infrastructure decision-making process and how California can focus on providing value for the folks who pay for infrastructure, rely upon it, and use it.