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Just Like Our Traffic, L.A.'s Freeway Conditions are the State's Worst

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, February 25, 2009, at 06:58PM
110 Freeway Eric Richardson [Flickr]

The 110 freeway through Downtown as seen in an October file photo.

California's state highway system covers over 50,000 lane miles, but Los Angeles County's share is in worse shape than anyone else's. Of Caltrans' twelve districts, Los Angeles' District 7 scores worst in landscaping, litter and graffiti.

The state transportation agency delivered those numbers to the City in response to a motion by Councilwoman Jan Perry asking the deteriorating condition of Los Angeles' freeways.

Despite having only 12.5% of the state's lane miles, freeways in District 7 (Los Angeles and Ventura counties) carry 25% of statewide traffic. In the district, Caltrans employs roughly 900 maintenance workers. With 1,100 center line freeway miles, that means that each worker is responsible for over a mile of freeway.

Alongside these roadways are 9,000 acres of landscaped area. 171 landscape workers take care of all that space, breaking down to roughly 52 acres per employee. According to the report, 90% of the existing landscape on freeways in the City has reached the end of its useful life.

Last year, crews in the city of Los Angeles removed 4,479,674 square feet of graffiti. That's several times more graffiti than was produced just a few years ago.

District-wide, Caltrans spent just over $8 million on litter removal in the last fiscal year, picking up 60,743 cubic yards of debris.

In each district, Caltrans evaluates performance to come up with Level of Service (LOS) measurements. For each category, the numbers in District 7 are worst in the state. Statewide, average LOS for landscaping is 59, but District 7 scores only 35. For litter and debris, the average LOS is 79, but District 7 scores 51. Statewide graffiti LOS is 90, but against District 7 trails at 66.

The report was on the agenda at today's City Council Transportation committee meeting, but there was little consensus on anything that could be done to improve the situation given the dire state of Calfornia's budget. One thing everyone could agree on? The situation's no good. Greg Fischer, a staff member in Perry's office, summed it up: "It's actually kind of appalling."

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