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Are California's smooth roads worth the extra cost?




Cars and trucks are slowly moving during the evening's rush hour on Hollywood Freeway (Highwayy 101) in Los Angeles California on February 13, 2014.     AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR        (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Cars and trucks are slowly moving during the evening's rush hour on Hollywood Freeway (Highwayy 101) in Los Angeles California on February 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

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"Smooth roads" and "California" aren't words that naturally fit together. After all, a state Senate report from 2015 found that almost 70 percent of our highways were in "poor" or "mediocre" condition. 

But for about four years, roads built in California have had to meet some pretty high standards for sleekness. The highest in the country, in fact. 

The California Department of Transportation says smooth roads last longer and can help improve gas mileage. But contractors say they cost too much and can be unsafe. 

Do they both have a point?

Take Two put that question to James Moore, director of the Transportation Engineering Program at USC's Viterbi School of Engineering. 

James says:

I like road builders. Some of my best friends are road builders. But I've got to line up with the agency on this matter. I think the jury really is in. There's a very significant extension to pavement life and to facility life if you build them smoother. 

We've got scarce resources in this state. We're way behind on maintenance of our infrastructure and Caltrans is looking forward, trying to eliminate or reduce that problem.