Here's what councilman Tom LaBonge has had to say about it:
Councilman Tom LaBonge assured residents the city was moving closer to "curb to curb" repaving of Wilshire Boulevard. "With 4,000 buses a day traveling Wilshire, their weight has torn up the curb lanes. The money is being set aside to pay for the project."
The re-paving of Wilshire Blvd. between Western and Fairfax Ave. should begin next spring. ...
We have applied for grants through two different federal funding programs to re-surface Wilshire Blvd., and were granted stimulus funds to re-pave the center lanes of the street. For the curb lanes, however, we applied for funding through a separate program that required that the re-paving be tied to a transit project.
The appropriate transit project was the Metro Bus Rapid Transit project, which will include complete reconstruction of the curb lanes, installation of new station areas and other improvements. When it's finished, Wilshire Blvd. will look terrific.
Because of the scale of this project, however, California law requires that the city conduct an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to determine how to do the work with the least possible impact on the community. The first phase of that report is now available online.
The final EIR is expected this fall (and in fact arrived in November -ed). If it is accepted by the various boards and commissions, the work would start next spring at the earliest. I hope you can be patient as this process unfolds.
Relief is on the way for those of us who drive the Wilshire corridor, which has become a moonscape of potholes, especially since the recent heavy rainfall over the holidays. Intensive talks are underway among my office and staff, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city Department of Transportation, and the Bureau of Street Services on a major resurfacing project for Wilshire Blvd., between Western and Fairfax. Survey teams from my office and the MTA have identified the worst areas. And I've secured funding from the MTA to do the resurfacing work in the areas that need it most. The effort had been bogged-down by a proposed Wilshire Corridor Bus-Lane project, which has been mired in delays and may not begin until next year. It's become clear that something must be done about the deterioration of Wilshire Blvd., and work will begin soon on resurfacing pockmarked portions of the much-traveled thoroughfare. It's way overdue, and the time is now to smooth out the teeth-rattling potholes on Wilshire.
[We have been] filling more potholes than at any time in the city's history. A more substantial resurfacing and reconstruction of Wilshire Boulevard is planned by the city and MTA as part of the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Curbside Bus Lane Project.
Councilmember LaBonge has introduced a motion... that the MTA Board direct the CEO to work with the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works to identify immediate strategies to eradicate damage and unsafe road conditions on Wilshire Boulevard [and] develop a long-term strategy for ensuring that Wilshire Boulevard and other heavily traveled MTA bus routes are maintained in a first-class condition.
... [The City of Los Angeles is repaving curbside lanes on Wilshire between Rimpau and Fairfax]... The work began last weekend and will be continuing on weekends over the next several weeks... "We are trying to replace the roadway in places where there is lots of damage, because it's horrible," LaBonge said.
As some wags have said, Los Angeles seems to wait until things get really horrible before acting: first huge signs, then marijuana dispensaries, then massage parlours, and now crumbling roads.
In 2009, the city reportedly increased its road maintentance budget... and then the fiscal crisis hit. The Bureau of Street Services had its budget decreased by 13%.
According to the 2010-2011 Budget Summary, the city takes in about $104 million each year in gas taxes. These go straight into the Special Gas Tax Street Improvement Fund, which can only be used for fixing or building roads or rail lines.
So, assuming all $104 million goes towards roads, we're still $146 million short every year of what it takes to keep the roads going. Hence the killer potholes.
Measure R was supposed to pay for some major road resurfacing; about $100 million is allocated from that each year for "Major street resurfacing... left turn signals; bikeways; signal synchronization; and transit", county-wide. The City's share of that is about $40 million.
So, even taking Measure R into account, we're still at least $106 million short.
About 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline are sold each year in the City of Los Angeles (3.5 billion countywide). The entire city street maintenance budget, $250 million a year, could be financed by a 16 cent / gallon gas tax.
The State Board of Equalization's Pamphlet #59 explains (it'd have to be countywide, the county council and "a majority of the city councils of the cities having a majority of the population in the incorporated areas of the county" would have to approve, it would have to go to the voters for majority approval, and the money so raised has to be spent in the ways approved by article 19 of the state constitution). (In particular, it says one has to spend a big part of the money in the Valley.)
Plus, we already kind of do; that's the whole idea behind the existing gas tax. It's just not sized properly. The problem is, it was sized fine years ago, but it hasn't been adjusted for inflation, because everybody likes a smooth ride but nobody likes paying for it.
But there's no such thing as a free lunch. Judging by the stastics above, we're currently paying about six cents per gallon to the city. Raising this by a dime would get us to breakeven.
Are you tired of potholes? I thought so. Let's do it!