San Diego officials make a mess of city streets

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A just-released report by City Auditor Eduardo Luna takes aim at the poor state of affairs with the city’s street repairs and maintenance efforts. Even after spending $133 million over the last seven years, the city has a work backlog of $377 million, and roughly 17 percent of city streets are rated as being in poor condition.

The report accuses city departments of poor planning and wasting taxpayer dollars by not coordinating repair work, saying that 18 percent of resurfacing work was done on streets that had the same work done within the previous two years. City departments and private companies, including San Diego Gas and Electric, routinely tear up freshly-paved streets necessitating new resurfacing, and preventing monies from being used elsewhere with more pressing needs.

City Councilman Kevin Faulconer says that “it’s the No. 1 issue among residents I speak with.” He acknowledges that city departments need to do a better job their coordinating efforts.

Over the last several years, the condition of San Diego’s streets have been in a downward spiral, while at the same time, city leaders approved hefty increases in health and pension benefits for fire and police union members. The increased pension benefits have created a massive unfunded pension liability totaling over $2.2 billion, and some experts believe that the city will ultimately need to restructure under bankruptcy protection.

Beginning Jan. 1, the city will fold the transportation and storm water department into a single unit that will handle street operations and maintenance, traffic engineering, utilities undergrounding, storm drain operation and right-of-way coordination. Officials expect that the new department will be better able to handle the coordination of repair and maintenance projects.

A non-profit trade group, The Foundation for Pavement Preservation, recently said that every $1 in well-planned city street repairs helps eliminate $6 to $14 later on rehabilitation projects.

San Diego Union-Tribune

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