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Los Angeles Becomes Pothole Capital of the U.S. Following Record Rainfall

March 22, 2005

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles motorists dodged thousands of potholes during this winter's storms, in part because neglected streets are in such shoddy condition that more than two-thirds of them – 4,000 miles – need repair, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. It took nearly 10,000 hours in overtime to fill more than 25,000 potholes since Jan. 7, but the repairs may not last more than a couple of years because the roads are in such poor condition. And there's no relief coming anytime soon. Fewer than 4 percent of the problem streets are slated to be resurfaced under the city's current budget. The region's historic rainfall left city streets pocked with thousands and thousands of potholes – some crater-size gashes that swallow up car tires. While the torrential downpour gave Los Angeles one of its rainiest seasons in a century, the damage eroded already crumbling roads, some of which have gone without repairs for 50 years. "The rains just exacerbated the problem, just continued to create bigger craters, bigger potholes," said Thomas Thomas, assistant director for the Bureau of Street Services. "We'd like to minimize the amount of potholes but, of course, until you can get your street system where it should be, they're going to be part of our life." It would take 10 years at triple the current resurfacing budget to catch up to the city's 4,000-mile backlog. "The reality is, historically since 1910 we've never seen the right level of funding," said Nazario Sauceda, assistant director of the city's Bureau of Street Services. "We're paying for the sins of our parents." Sauceda can't estimate how many more potholes there are still to fill from the heavy rains that first started battering the city in late December, only that "the calls keep coming." With thousands of damaged road sections, the city's 24 pothole-repair trucks can't keep up with the city's earlier promise to fix potholes in 24 hours. Now it's taking about two days. The city has amassed as much as 9,600 overtime hours, at an estimated cost of $200,000 so far, running weekend crews to fix the problem. But the issue, city officials said, is that many of the potholes being reported are in fact other kinds of gashes, trenches, and deterioration that need repairs beyond what the pothole crews can handle. Those repairs are next on the list.
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