Potholes are a blemish for the city of Berkeley. According to a recent report by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Berkeley scored a 60 out of 100 on the pavement condition index — indicating that its road system is on the precipice of rapid deterioration.
We understand that the city faces an enormous deficit, and road repairs at this point should be a long-term goal. But city officials can start now by drafting long-term plans aimed at fixing and maintaining decent roads.
Road conditions can have both a positive and a negative impact on local economics. Not only do unsightly potholes make Berkeley less aesthetically pleasing — they also make traveling through Berkeley less attractive to drivers.
While bad roads are not be the sole cause of economic underperformance, they certainly have an impact on the businesses located near deteriorating infrastructure. Fixing potholes — and preventing further decay — will produce a positive, noticeable change in the stores and areas tourists are attracted to.
Bad roads are also a blight on the strong green image Berkeley prides itself on. They decrease gas mileage and increase necessary automotive maintenance — exacting both economic and environmental costs.
We do not expect the city to fill all of the potholes this year — such a request would be unreasonable. But we do expect city officials to produce long-term, concrete plans that address the issues raised in the report.
Waiting any longer to begin to address the problem will only make the inevitable repairs more costly for the city and the public at a time when both are already facing heavy financial burdens. The residents of Berkeley — who pay local taxes in part to maintain their streets — deserve to know that city officials are working toward addressing the problem.
Berkeley has many reasons to be proud. With proper planning, the city can ensure road conditions are one of those reasons in the years to come. Until then, the report’s findings are an embarrassing reminder that city officials must salvage Berkeley’s grade by paving the way toward well-kept roads with a concrete plan of action.