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Pothole Time Warp: Mayor Wants 27 Years of Fixes in 2 Years

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The latest trick up the mayor's sleeve involves using Measure R funds to advance pothole repairs on the city's crappy streets, the Los Angeles Times reports. About $2 billion from Measure R, a tax increase passed by voters in 2008, is allocated for Los Angeles-specific street repairs--they're supposed to be done over the life of the tax increase, which ends in 2039. Much like Villaraigosa's 30/10 plan, which would speed up transit projects by getting immediate federal loans to be reimbursed by eventual Measure R funds, the road plan--called LA Road Works--would take out about $800 million in loans against the Measure R funds earmarked for pothole repair, pour that money into two to three years of street repairs, and pay the advances back with interest (don't worry, money for transit and freeway work won't be touched). The plan is gaining allies at City Hall and one-third of the 15 city councilmembers have been briefed. Councilmember Bernard Parks is concerned about the $600 million in interest the city may be on the hook for, but drivers and bus riders on Wilshire and Ventura are probably thinking whatever (the former head of the Bureau of Street Services told the Times that nearly one-sixth of the city's streets need "total reconstruction"). Material prices and construction are cheap now so that could help absorb the interest. But the potholes will inevitably need fixing again, by, say, the 2020s--will the remainder of the Measure R resources be enough to take us to 2039? Meanwhile, Villaraigosa's team hopes to make some sort of formal announcement by next week and get this passed by 2012.
· Villaraigosa Wants to Borrow Future Tax Money to Fix Streets [LA Times]