How would you and your car like to move to Ft. Wayne, Ind.? Or Davenport, Iowa?
Because the roads there are twice as good as L.A.’s -- or to put it more correctly, they’re only half as bad.
The roads from Santa Ana to Santa Clarita are the pits, and that’s not just me and my Prius saying so. The transportation nonprofit TRIP, using data from the Federal Highway Administration’s detailed index, concluded that almost two-thirds of the roads in Greater Los Angeles are not great at all -- in fact, they’re downright lousy. One-quarter of L.A. city streets got a grade of F.
This is bad for your frame of mind behind the wheel, and bad for the frame of your car, and all the other bits too. It damages your bank account to the tune of about $832 per driver.
This also damages something less tangible: L.A.’s reputation as a car capital.
We should be capitalizing on that capital standing. Joan Didion and Randy Newman are our driving muses. You think New York has a song about the joys of cruising around Manhattan? Heck, Angelenos crash more Lamborghinis than there are Lamborghinis, period, in entire states. Wreck it as it lays, L.A.!
The city of L.A., a part of this mess but not all of it, has a 60-year backlog of street repairs. Sixty years! Why? Why, since President Eisenhower was sworn in, have our roads been going to pot, and potholes?
I suspect that part of it is because it’s easier and more glamorous to put down a new road than to keep an old one in repair. Developers, politicians -- they like all the fun and flashbulbs of opening a new park or bridge or library or subdivision. No one’s going to show up to take pictures a year later, when the bridge needs new paint or the park needs new grass. Officials talk pothole politics, but if all that talk were gravel and concrete, the potholes would be filled by now.
In our defense, urban streets are -- to use a horse-and-buggy-era metaphor -- usually rode hard and put up wet. They take a walloping, and, perversely, Angelenos get mightily peeved when a street gets taken out of commission, even if it’s to fix it up.
City Hall is talking about a bond issue on next fall’s ballot to raise the $3 billion needed to fix the streets, but I doubt that Angelenos’ fury at bad roads trumps their fury at City Hall’s decades of dilatory bumbling on this. Perhaps this is one place where the new mayor, Eric Garcetti, may choose to spend his political capital, but it’s a dicey outlay with an iffy payoff.
Or we could just wait until the icecaps melt and flood the coasts, and embrace again Abbot Kinney’s idea of a city of canals. Each street becomes a waterway, divided into lanes like Olympic swimming pools. The freeways become epic rivers. Roman Abramovich could cruise his monster yacht a few yards up San Vicente; police motorboats could shriek along and soak those waiting at water-taxi stops with their wakes; and Elon Musk’s trendy clean-energy boats, powered by tiny cold-fusion engines of his own invention, would be the monarchs of the water-pool lanes.
Follow Patt Morrison on Twitter @pattmlatimesCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times