Distance Matters

Think globally and act locally

California's infrastructure projects have a carbon footprint. Construction materials that build California's roads, mass transit, single family homes and high-density smart growth - all depend on large quantities of construction aggregates (rock, sand, and gravel) transported to job sites by heavy-duty trucks. Reducing the distances these trucks travel is a key strategy in reducing greenhouse gases and reducing the state's carbon footprint.

The California Geological Survey says, “In some parts of the state, one-way haul distances that were 20-30 miles decades ago are now sometimes 100 miles or more.”

Benefits of Using Local Aggregate Resources

Transporting from shorter distances is healthier for all of us.

  • Caltrans has calculated that decreasing the distance aggregate is shipped by an average of 15 miles across the state would reduce total transport distances by 178 million miles per year.
  • This would reduce fuel consumption by 23 million gallons annually.
  • ​It would remove 238,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Transporting from shorter distances protects the environment and reduces traffic.

  • Caltrans estimates a current average hauling distance of 50 miles.
  • If the trip length can be reduced by even 15 miles, then diesel fuel consumption can be reduced by 23 million gallons annually, and truck emissions by 238,000 tons per year. 
  • Traffic congestion and traffic accidents would be reduced.
Transporting from shorter distances saves money. 
  • Most aggregates are transported by truck, and aggregate trucking costs increase significantly for even 15 or 20 miles of transport. 
  • As such, if trucking distances can be reduced by even 15 miles, then statewide transportation cost savings could be $446 million per year, or a 30% savings, per Caltrans.
  • Caltrans also estimates that trucks account for 60% of the pavement damage to state highways, and reducing aggregate truck trips would save $45 million in pavement rehabilitation costs each year. 
  • More and closer quarries would save costs by the use of less fuel, decreased use of trucks, and decreased wear on highways.

Download Caltrans Construction Aggregate Supply Limitations Fact Sheet
Download California Geological Survey’s Aggregate Sustainability Report
Download California Geological Survey’s Aggregate Sustainability Map