Californians don't drive much, a new report suggests.
What, that's not what you've heard? You've heard California is a car-loving society where Joe Average spends more time behind the wheel each day - sipping coffee, talking on his cell, listening to CDs - than he does in his own family room at home?
Wrong, according to a national study released this week by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The group assessed roads, bridges and levees nationally, and found America's functional backbone quite weak. Like a ruler-snapping teacher, ASCE gave the country as a whole a D-minus grade and California a C grade. It called on government to invest far more money in roads and other infrastructure.
What we found most interesting in the report, though, was this tidbit: California ranks only 40th in average miles driven annually per person.
The typical Californian drove 8,647 miles last year. Wyoming residents did the most driving, 16,948 miles per driver. (Where were they all headed? We'll never know.) Alaskans drove the least, 6,719 miles. (It's hard to roam when it's winter in Nome.)
So why do Californians drive less each year than residents of most states? Transportation planners have pointed out that most Californians live in dense, urban areas, where many jobs are close to homes and where a higher percentage of people find public transit useful, especially in the core Bay Area and in central Los Angeles.
Those who drive to work may spend more time in congestion but don't travel as many miles as suburban or rural commuters.
Freeway puddle problem
Reader Bob Caldwell asks why the westbound Highway 50 carpool lane in the Cameron Park area is taking so long to open. The eastbound lanes are already open.
El Dorado County officials report the new pavement on about 70 feet of that section is slightly depressed, causing water to pool on the freeway. It's an unusual problem, and potentially dangerous. Officials say they will have to repave that section, but cannot do it until nighttime temperatures are nearly 60 degrees. They say they should get it open before Memorial Day. The extra cost: about $30,000. Who must pay? The county and the contractor are haggling over that now.
Do you live near transit?
A national report says homes near transit stops in large cities held their value better than the general home market during the 2007-2011 collapse. The study was jointly conducted by the American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors.
Do you live near light rail? How is that a plus - or a minus? Let me know.
Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.