When a ruptured water main dumped tens of millions of gallons of water onto Sunset Boulevard a couple weeks ago, it was a big wake up call about just how aged and aging the city's pipes are (they're scheduled to be replaced every three centuries), and we already knew that our streets and sidewalks are in pretty terrible shape. Today, Bloomberg takes a closer look at Los Angeles's public works, the enormous amount of money and effort it could take to get things running smoothly, and some of the obstacles the city is facing in making all those upgrades.
· What are we talking here? Well, it's estimated that it would cost $4 billion ("more than half the city's annual operating budget") to get LA's pipes into good shape; fixing our craggy sidewalks should cost about $640 million. So, tons of money. And that's not even counting the streets yet.
· The Bureau of Street Service gave so many of LA's streets a D or F grade (40 percent of them), it's hard to believe that Los Angeles has spent $300 million on paving in the last three years, but it has. The cost of fixing only the worst streets has been estimated at around $4 billion.
· Another estimate, this one from the budget advocate for LA's neighborhood councils, says "getting public works into good shape" could cost anywhere between $10 and $15 million.
· Many of LA's pipes are 100 years old, which is the age at which most engineers recommend that pipes be replaced. Cool, let's get on it! Only thing is, to replace pipes at that rate would require a four-percent increase in water rates each year, according to Councilmember Paul Koretz.
· And Councilmember Mitch Englander tells Bloomberg he's confident that voters won't be too keen on increasing the sales tax (already one of the nation's highest) or the price of water. "We can't tax our way out of this." (Wait, what about property taxes??)
· Drivers in LA spend—on average!—$832 a year on repairs and other costs incurred from shredded roads, a 2013 study found. (That's the highest amount in the country and 71 percent more than the average for all urban areas surveyed.)
· Fix it now or fix it later (at a greater expense), but this problem isn't going away. "The cost doubles about every 10 years," Councilmember Englander warns.
· L.A. Faces $15 Billion Bill as Pipes Spring Leaks: Cities [Bloomberg]
· How LADWP Shut Off the Gushing Water Main at UCLA [Curbed LA]
· Study Says a Sales Tax Hike is LA's Best Bet For Fixing Awful Streets and Sidewalks [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles Has the Worst Roads of Any Big City in the US [Curbed LA]
· Meet the Block With Los Angeles's Most Dangerous Sidewalks [Curbed LA]