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Rating The Nation's Roads

California rates more than a third of its roads as poor, a higher percentage than any other state, according to a study released Thursday by a group financed primarily by the highway construction industry.

The state rated as "poor" 37 percent of its 168,000 miles of road, according to the report by The Road Information Program, which completed the study for Transportation California, a group of contractors, unions and other organizations.

TRIP said its analysis of 2000 information from the Federal Highway Administration found that California spent $82 per resident on maintenance - less than any other state. The FHA doesn't break down per capita spending on roads.

TRIP said Georgia gave its roads the best rating, with none in poor condition.

The other states with the highest self-reported percentage of "poor" roads, according to TRIP, were Louisiana, at 27 percent; Massachusetts, at 25 percent; and New Jersey and Missouri, both at 21 percent. On average, states reported that 11 percent of their roads were in poor condition.

TRIP cautioned that though all states reported to the federal government on the quality of their roads, there was no way to ensure they used identical standards.

According to the report, the other states that spent the least were Illinois, which spent $94 per person and ranked 9 percent of its roads as poor; Michigan, which spent $106 per person and ranked 15 percent as poor; Minnesota, which spent $108 per person and ranked 4 percent as poor; and Ohio, which spent $109 per person and ranked 6 percent as poor.

The study also recommends that voters in California approve Proposition 42, on the March 5 ballot, which would use gasoline sales taxes for road maintenance.

The TRIP analysis included interstates, freeways, major state roads and arterial roads, which are the major roads of a community, research director Frank Moretti said.

Dennis Trujillo, a spokesman for the California's Department of Transportation, said the state is dedicating about $1 billion a year to maintenance and repairs. Cities and counties received an additional $400 million last year for maintenance as part of the state's Congestion Relief Program. The state currently has $6 billion in general road improvements under way.

Gov. Gray Davis "has reversed a trend of 16 years of disinvestment in transportation," said Trujillo. "I believe our system is second to none, but there's room for improvement."

By Colleen Valles © MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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