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LA streets and sidewalks aren’t in Olympic-ready condition

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City leaders want more transit options and better sidewalks in time for the 2028 games

Broken sidewalk
Many Los Angeles streets and sidewalks are in poor condition, and city staff is having trouble keeping up with repairs.
logoboom | Shutterstock

Los Angeles isn’t scheduled to host the Olympic Games for another 10 years, but some local officials are worried that won’t be enough time to fix the city’s deteriorating roads and crumbling sidewalks.

City Councilmembers Mitchell Englander and Joe Buscaino submitted a motion Wednesday asking city staff to find ways to accelerate infrastructure projects in time for the start of competition in 2028.

“We need a plan now detailing how we’re going to get our City’s infrastructure in shape for the games,” said Englander in a statement.

He and Buscaino note that around 8,700 lane miles of roads around Los Angeles are in need of repair, and that close to 40 percent of city streets have either a D or F grade in the city’s scoring system.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Engineering reported last month that it was trying to keep up with close to 17,000 requests for sidewalk repairs—though the bureau was able to fix less than 500 sidewalks in the last fiscal year.

The city has a plan in place to invest $1.4 billion into sidewalk improvements over the next 30 years, but that would still leave plenty of walkways in disrepair by the time the Olympics arrive.

To speed things up, Englander and Buscaino want to borrow against future revenue that the city will receive through the Measure M sales tax initiative approved by LA County voters in 2016, as well as a statewide transportation funding bill passed last year.

Colin Sweeney, Englander’s spokesperson, says the city would be wise to spend that money now to prevent “further deterioration of infrastructure” and to avoid lawsuits that could result from deferred maintenance.

Jessica Meaney, director of Investing in Place, agrees that accelerating repairs should be a priority for the city. Still, she suggests that local officials will need to settle on a comprehensive strategy to ensure the funding is being used effectively.

”We can work backwards,” she says. “Where do we want to be in 10 years?”

Sweeney says city officials will have a larger conversation on which projects to prioritize once funding is in place.

This is far from the only infrastructure issue Los Angeles leaders are hoping to address in the next ten years. Last year, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced plans to speed up 28 transportation projects so that they are ready by 2028—something Metro is now attempting to do.