Street Maintenance: What It Says About Our Priorities

My office sits on the corner Colorado Blvd and Figueroa Street in Eagle Rock. I often walk across the street to the post office to drop mail off, walk to the bank, or walk to the Vons deli to get a sandwich for lunch. Right in the middle of the intersection, there is a leaky water main, which has kept the intersection in a perpetual state of wetness for the past 6-8 months

Two weeks ago, a city street crew came by and repaired some of the gaping potholes that have developed as a result of water constantly seeping up through the ground. But no one had bothered to fix the water main, despite several calls made to the DWP by our landlord. Since the water main keeps leaking, the asphalt that was used to repair the potholes did not get a chance to set and dry properly. The constant stream of car traffic eliminated almost all of the filled in asphalt, so now the pothole is back, and bigger than ever.

What does this say about the City’s (and by extension, our) priorities regarding the street? Clearly, the message here is that smooth roads and a pleasant driving experience are more important than anything else, including wasting water and increasing the walkability of the neighborhood. What does a little water on the ground matter when you’re traveling at 40mph in a sealed metal compartment? It has little to no effect on you personally, and because you only spend a few seconds in that area, there is little incentive to really investigate the cause or to care about what has taken place to cause the problem But a few bumps in the road? Unacceptable!

The leak is a major problem when you’re walking, though. In addition to the usual hazards associated with crossing five lanes of fast moving traffic, you now have to cross a stream of dirty, muddy water, and navigate a minefield of holes, cracks and debris. If you’re wearing pants, expect the cuffs to get all dirty. If you’re wearing sandals, expect your feet to get wet and grimy.

And regardless of what you may think about the importance of walkability to a neighborhood, how stupid can the City of LA be? Clearly the water main is leaking (as in, you can see water actually coming up from the ground at a glance), and clearly this has wreaked havoc on the street over the last few months. It’s like applying a band aid to a gaping flesh wound: it won’t solve the real problem no matter how many times you do it, and the problem will continue to get worse until the root cause is addressed.

Below are a few more photos that I took this afternoon on my way back from the post office. It’s currently 98 degrees outside, and hasn’t rained in weeks. Hmm…where did this water come from?

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One thought on “Street Maintenance: What It Says About Our Priorities

  1. Update: I called LADWP yesterday before I left work, and they said they’d look into it. They also noticed that it had been called in before. They added it to the maintenance crews To Do list, but couldn’t provide any indication of when they might get to it. Who knows how many hundreds, if not thousands of gallons of water have been wasted over the past few months, and how much time and energy the repairs to the street will waste. City government is amazing.

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