FAQ: Hit the Road, Jack

While Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was being chauffeured around in his limousine, hobnobbing with Hollywood stars, the elite, and the rich in a smooth, luxurious ride, we mere mortals have been driving our Fords, Pontiacs and Explorers over the excruciating potholes and deteriorating roads of Los Angeles. According to the mayor’s office, Los Angeles drivers spend an average of $693 a year to repair damage caused by bad road conditions and potholes. Nearly 500,000 auto insurance claims are filed each year for pothole mishaps.*

When Mayor A was running for office, he promised to fix L.A.’s potholes and make our streets smoother and less dangerous to drive on. In 2005 he announced Operation Pothole and, according to the L.A. Times’ Bottleneck Blog, promised to fix 300,000 potholes across the city. And, according to the blog, the city exceeded that goal by filling 307,767 of them; between September and December 2005 alone, city crews filled 80,173 potholes at a cost of $450,000.

(It usually costs the city $5 to $21 to fix a pothole, depending on its size, according to the Department of Street Services).

In March of 2007 Villaraigosa announced “Operation Smooth Ride,” and in July he kicked off his “350,000 Pothole Repair Challenge” by filling the first pothole during a news conference in Eagle Rock (L.A. Times, July 10, 2007). We’re still waiting to see the results.

Our streets continue to deteriorate: not only with potholes but with whole stretches of roads buckling and cracking. The right lanes on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile in both West and East directions (for an exhilarating shock, make a right turn going west on Wilshire at Detroit), Third Street between Rossmore and La Brea, and Sunset Blvd. between La Brea and Vine, to name just a few, are hazardous to drive — the roadways are alternately sunken and raised, cracked and riddled with trenches. The cause, we suspect, are the giant Metro buses and heavy construction vehicles from overdevelopment building sites that prowl the right-hand lanes and tear up the asphalt.

Let’s hope that our new mayor, Eric Garcetti, will be more responsive to the needs of Los Angeles’ citizens (and not the corporate big boys and money hungry developers that were so favored by the previous administration) — and that he’ll find the money to repair our streets (and the city’s deteriorating infrastructure). One hint: Let’s charge all those developers (and Metro) to repair the streets their heavy vehicles destroy.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 4, 2013), TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that studies transportation data and issues, has rated Los Angeles-Santa Ana-Long Beach as first among cities (with more than 500,000 residents) for the highest percentage of roads in poor condition and the highest annual cost to drivers — which here amounts to $800 per year. This study was based on 2011 data from the Federal Highway Administration. Read the complete L.A. Times story here.

And, in the Sunday, May 5, 2013 edition of the Times, the paper applied its data-gathering expertise to the database of streets maintained by the Bureau of Street Services (which includes location, rating, street type and last inspection and repair), “mapped the data to neighborhood and council district boundaries,” and created a nifty online interactive map that allows you to type in your address and get your street’s grade.

What’s worse, according to  a July 31, 2014 article in the Times, is that

“City auditors revealed … that the bureau charged with fixing and maintaining Los Angeles’ streets is beset with problems that include failing to collect or spend hundreds of millions of dollars, keeping shoddy records and neglecting to address the most heavily trafficked roads first. The woes of L.A. streets are already obvious to anyone on wheels or foot: Streets so pockmarked or broken that the city gives them a D or F grade make up nearly 40% of city roadways. Mike Eveloff, president of the advocacy group Fix the City, argued that the battered roads imposed a “hidden tax” on Angelenos, who end up paying for cars damaged by potholes and other untallied expenses.Repairing the worst roads has been estimated to cost nearly $4 billion. But auditors for City Controller Ron Galperin pointed out a host of shortcomings in the way the Bureau of Street Services uses the money it already has …” Read the complete story here.

It’s your turn. E-mail us with a picture of your favorite pothole or bad stretch of road, and we’ll post it to this Blog and forward it on to the powers that be. Use this handy Pot Shots outline for describing your pothole, and send it to PotShots@LAPotholes.com.

Approx. size:
Length of time it’s been there:

LAPotholes.com is not responsible for any injuries, damages or death … while shooting photographs. Please look both ways before taking photos.

If you see a pothole or bad stretch of road, and want to report it immediately, call 1-(800)-996-CITY or (800) 996-2489, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The direct line for the Bureau of Street Services (Streets LA) is (213) 847-3333. Or use the Online Services Request Form that can be accessed at the LA City Services page at https://myla311.lacity.org. Click the CREATE SERVICE REQUEST box, which takes you to the SERVICE TYPE page. Click the button for “Street Problem/Repair,” click next, then click the button for “Pothole – Small Asphalt Repair,” and fill in the required information.

L.A. now has a free app to report non-emergency issues to your local municipal and city hall government offices; issues include potholes, graffiti, missed trash collections, abandoned vehicles, downed trees, broken traffic lights, broken sidewalks, etc. There’s one for the Android and one for the iPhone.

And if your car has been damaged by a pothole or bad stretch of road, consider filing a claim with the City of Los Angeles. A “Claim for Damages Form” is available online at the Office of the City Clerk. Or call the City Attorney’s Office at (213) 978-7050 for assistance. Be sure to read the post Getting the City to Pay for Damages. Good luck.

And don’t forget to complain to your City Councilmember. Here’s how to find their phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Want to complain to Mayor Karen Bass: Contact her here or at her email: mayor.helpdesk@lacity.org

And if you have other complaints and beefs about our streets, traffic, transportation, overdevelopment and nasty drivers, feel free to e-mail us at Potholes@LAPotholes.com

Contact the Bureau of Street Services

Pothole FAQ

Pothole information from the Bureau of Street Services

How a typical pothole is formed

Bureau of Street Services Street Maintenance FAQs

Streets LA Pavement Preservation Map

Pothole Wiki

Ruts Wiki

Crocodile Cracking Wiki


*Source: L.A. Times’ Bottleneck Blog

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