Ever get the sense that a street you drive on all the time stays potholed, cracked and awful forever while other perfectly-fine roads are constantly getting care? Turns out, it’s not in your head. The Department of Public Works has something they call the “80/20” policy, devoting 80 percent of their maintenance budget to streets that are already considered to be in better condition, leaving the lowest-scoring streets to share the remaining 20 percent of funds. The reasoning being that preventative work required to keep a middling or good street in okay condition is far less expensive than the costly repairs needed to bring a really bad street up to par.
To determine the allocation, the Bureau of Street Services gives streets a letter grade from A to F. As reported by KPCC, streets in the D and F range are the 20 percenters, costing an estimated $500,000 to $1 million per lane mile to resurface—and there are about 855 D or F grade lane miles around the city. An average street in LA gets a C-, just squeaking into the 80 percent that gets regular treatment.
The city has an interactive tool to determine the grade of streets along your commute. If you live on Westwood Boulevard, for example, you’re in the clear, cruising down a grade-A street. If you’re driving along Laurel Canyon or Mulholland, however, you might want to watch out; both are ranked F for “very poor condition” including “major or unsafe cracking.” What grade should we give the DWP for this seemingly flawed policy?