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March Transportation and Public Works Wrap-Up

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2005, at 09:49PM

Tonight was the monthly meeting for DLANC's Transportation & Public Works committee. As usual, I'll try to summarize what went on, though obviously these aren't in any way official minutes. This month's meeting featured two big presentations. First came the Bureau of Street Services, talking about the Mayor's proposed $100,000 per council budget for street surfacing. Second we heard from the CRA on the Best Practices document from the Downtown parking study (which we covered here two months ago). Also updated were efforts to light the historic streetlights on 7th St., and the BIDs' Downtown Wayfinding Signage program.

Bureau of Street Services

First up, as I mentioned, was a representative from the Bureau of Street Services. They are currently going around to all the councils, outlining what will happen if the Mayor's proposed $100,000 per council funding for street surfacing is passed as part of the FY'06 budget.

Part of the presentation was a brief tutorial on how Street Services manages the city roadways. The City of Los Angeles currently has 6500 miles of streets. That's by far the most in the world. Street Services gave the example that you could fit thirteen major metropolitan areas inside the city of LA. I can't remember the exact ones they listed, but suffice it to say the Manhattan, Cleveland, etc, would all fit cleanly inside Los Angeles together. Of those 6500 miles, 1000 are considered failed. Yet Street Services only currently has the budget to repair about 150 - 200 miles of roadway per year. If all their money went in to replacing failed streets, more of the system would fail, and the situation would get even more grim. To try and get "the most bang for [their] buck," they put 80% of funding into non-failed roads, and 20% into rehabbing failed streets. Then, someday when magicly people realize that infrastructure is important, they'll be able to replace more of the failed roads.

Brought up was the city's 24-hour pledge for filling potholes. Up until December, Street Services says they had been 100% on filling potholes within that timeframe. Obviously, though, the rain threw them a little bit off. From December through early March Street Services says they filled 29,758 potholes. Important to understand, though, is that 60% of what is reported to them as potholes really aren't. A pothole is a technical term, much different than say a popout or alligator cracking. Make sure you understand your types of roadway damage before you get worked up about them not filling your pothole. They have primers on the website. As a sidenote, the city of New York promises to repair a pothole within 30 days. With that as context, I think waiting two days is acceptable.

As for the council-directed funding, we'll meet again with Street Services in a month or so to determine what street services can best be serviced.

CRA Downtown Parking Study

DLANC T&PW Committee Member Jeff Carpenter of the CRA presented their Downtown Parking Study's Best Practices document. He went through a brief description of ideas like pricing parking to best encourage efficiency and "parking revenue increment financing." Also discussed were new pay-station technologies common in Europe, but currently being tested up in Old Pasadena. These provide a common pay-point for say a block of meters, and allow the use of coins, bills, credit cards, etc. A lot of talk went into Downtown's clever population of meter vandals, and how new technologies could help reduce their effects.

While the Best Practices document does not present proposed solutions for Downtown, it does give solutions that have been effective in other places. I definitely encourage reading it.

7th Street Lights

Basic back-story here is that along with construction of the subway, some street lights of historic design were installed on 7th Street. These were either lit briefly or never lit, and have stood dark for many years. Finally it appears the Board of Public Works is moving to light them up.

Downtown Wayfinding Signage

The wayfinding signage is a long-running project of the Downtown Business Improvement Districts, the aim of which is to put up signs that give both vehicles and pedestrians directions to the various districts of Downtown. The program is very ambitious, looking to erect over one thousand signs and map-signs, some high for vehicles, some at eye-level for pedestrians. I really like the idea and the example signs, and the BIDs have followed through the long process of really making this happen. There will be a opening ceremony April 26th as the first signs are put up, and then all signage should be in place by August. At that times the BIDs will also fund a publicity campaign, accompanying website, etc. All very good stuff.

The next Transportation & Public Works meeting is also scheduled for April 26th, at 6:30pm in the Community Room of Promenade West (880 W. 1st St).

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