To legions of motorists stuck in traffic or navigating the occasional pothole it might seem otherwise, but Caltrans says the condition of its pavement is the best it's been in more than a decade.

In its annual "State of the Pavement Report," Caltrans said the percent of healthy pavement on the state highway system increased from 75 to 84 percent in two years - an increase of 4,500 lane miles of smoother pavement.

About 16 percent of California's highway miles (7,820 lane miles) are in poor condition, but that's an improvement over previous years, according to the report.

In addition, the percentage of healthy pavement statewide went up 9 percent, Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger said.

But local state highways in and around Solano County are among some of the worst in the state, the report notes.

Nearly one-third of the highway miles in Caltrans District 4 -- which includes Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Marin, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco -- are in poor, or distressed, state, according to the report.

Only one other area in the state is worse -- Los Angeles with 35 percent of its lane miles in poor condition.

Pavement conditions are tested through road surveys of drivers, plus state drivers who use specialized vehicles to test the smoothness of the surface, Dinger said.

Overall local state highways have improved, but the state agency still has a "huge back load" of highway construction and repair projects, said Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls.


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But Solano County does have its bright spots, officials said.

Most notably, Interstate 80, which Halls said, was in bad shape about five years ago, has seen some major improvements from the Carquinez Bridge through Dixon.

In addition, Caltrans is also completing the widening section of Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon, he said. In the near future, plans will be finalized to do some maintenance work on I-680, as well.

Dinger credited the improved pavement conditions to increased funding from voter-approved Prop. B and about $4 billion in federal funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

At the Metropolitan Transportation Commission which does a pavement condition analysis of local roads and streets, spokesman John Goodwin said the condition of city and county pavement is not as rosy as the state picture.

By contrast, the Bay Area has seen some notable state highway improvements, including work on I-80 and new pavement on the MacArthur Freeway

The 2013 State of the Pavement Report is available online at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/maint/Pavement/Pavement--Program/PDF/2013--SOP--FINAL-Dec--2013-1-24-13.pdf.

Contact staff writer Sarah Rohrs at srohrs@timesheraldonline.com or (707) 553-6832. Follow her on Twitter @SarahVTH.

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