Two-thirds of roads in Salt Lake City at poor condition or worse, new study says

SALT LAKE CITY – A new city wide survey on road conditions shows there is a pothole in the funding to pay to fix our potholes.

The study says two-thirds of roadways in Salt Lake City are in poor condition or worse, and it would cost millions to keep them from declining further in the coming years.

“The study confirmed what was and what has been a suspicion of Salt Lake City residents for a very long time, which is the majority of our roads are in poor or in poorer condition,” said Erin Mendenhall, chairwoman of the Salt Lake City Council.

The city said it spent more than $7 million on road maintenance in 2017, but this study shows fixing the issue is going to cost nearly three times that, each year, for the next decade.

”Any time you defer maintenance on a city street the cost of repairing goes up and up each year,” Mendenhall said.

Road conditions were rated by a van equipped with technology to detect damage on 4,100 segments of road in Salt Lake City, the stretch on 100 South between 1300 East and University Boulevard is said to be in the worst condition.

”We’re looking at least at ten years to really turn the tide of decay of our streets to progress of our streets,” Mendenhall said.

But this damage doesn’t come as a shock to the council.

“We’re dealing with more than a decade of needed maintenance, this isn’t a surprise to anyone on the council,” said Mendenhall.

Mendenhall said the issue started back during the recession in 2008; funds were cut, maintenance was deferred, and now ten years later the issue is even bigger.

"We’re slipping a little further and further behind on the quality of our roads,” said Mike Reberg, director of the Salt Lake City department of community and neighborhoods.

When asked why our roads have taken the backseat for so long, Reberg said, “Roads are expensive.”

Now if Salt Lake City wants to give new life to its nearly 600 miles of roads, the study projects it will cost $20 million a year for the next decade.

“The reality is you can’t shuffle budgets around in salt lake city and find 20 million dollars …you’re going to have to find new sources of revenue to do that,” Reberg said.

The council said they will consider a general bond from the mayor, sales tax options, property tax options and impact fees, but said no one of those could fill the gap by itself.

“I think really what it’s going to take now is a conversation between the mayor and the council and the citizens of Salt Lake City. And really have a conversation about how much it matters and to what extent it matters,” said Reberg.

”When we can’t quite take care of our roads, how are we supposed to take care of all of the other necessities that a city provides?” Mendenhall concluded.

To check the rating of your street you can use the interactive map below: