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When heavy rains fall on Los Angeles, an outbreak of potholes is sure to follow.
The city of Los Angeles sprung into action Tuesday to fix potholes caused by the recent rainstorms that swept through the city. City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District, and Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, announced the first “Operation Pothole” of 2011, which will take place Jan. 8 and 9 and will involve approximately 50 crews from the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) filling as many potholes as possible. The BSS has deployed between 15 to 20 crews per day since the rainstorms began last week.
“The recent storms created more potholes and the city is moving quickly to repair them,” Garcetti said.
Bill Robertson, director of the BSS, said the period immediately following a rainstorm is when the streets are most impacted. It is during these times the BSS runs Operation Pothole.
“Every time we run Operation Pothole we repair between 10,000 to 15,000 potholes,” Roberston said.
Garcetti estimated there are currently tens of thousands of potholes scattered throughout the city as a result of the rainstorms. Most potholes can be filled in one to two minutes, while others can take up to 10 minutes.
Operation Pothole began in 2005 and Robertson said the BSS has fixed an average of 300,000 potholes per year since its inception. He expects that only 250,000 potholes will be fixed this year, however, due to a loss in personnel of 392 employees to early retirement and transfers to other departments.
The loss of personnel also affected the response time for fixing a pothole. The BSS formerly guaranteed a 24-hour turnaround to fix a pothole, but that response time has been pushed back to two working days.
Operation Pothole is part of the Pavement Preservation Program, which is funded at $94 million and includes resurfacing, crack sealing and small asphalt repairs. The city spends $4 to 5 million annually fixing potholes.
According to Robertson, there are 28,000 miles of road in L.A. That is the equivalent of one five-lane highway extending to L.A. to New York and back again.
“That’s how big our street system is,” Robertson said.
Garcetti also urged residents to get involved by dialing 311, the city’s non-emergency line, to report the new potholes. Residents will be asked to provide an approximate address of the pothole location.
“The more potholes we can identify, the more potholes we can fill,” Garcetti said. “Please do not assume that the city will magically know about the pothole near your house or on your way to work. Pick up the phone and report it.”
The city fixed 350,000 potholes in 2009, but only 10 percent of those were actually reported by the public according to Robertson.
Residents who suffer vehicle damage due to potholes were also urged to file a claim with the L.A. City Clerk’s Office. While Garcetti did not have an exact number, he said that he could think of hundreds of claims the city has paid out over the years because of potholes and that the city does not brush off the claims.
LaBonge had other words of advice for residents driving on pothole infested roads.
“These storms have caused havoc on our streets,” LaBonge said. “Be aware because there are potholes out there. Drive under the speed limit and give yourself time to react in case you do see a pothole.”
Garcetti is counting on the city to do its part in trying to fill the potholes scattered throughout the city.
“Our hope is to get as many pothole addresses in our repair database as we can before January 8,” Garcetti said. “The more potholes we can identify, the more we can fix.”
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