In December we told you that Los Angeles has the worst roads in America, according to a national transportation research organization. But by now you know: Any trip through Hollywood (Santa Monica Boulevard), Hancock Park and Windsor Square (Beverly Boulevard) or Mar Vista (Venice Boulevard) will shake your car into knowing submission.
But the mother of all potholes happened over the weekend on the Hollywood Freeway through downtown. The black hole in southbound lanes near East First Street, described as four feet wide and six inches deep, caused 20 flat tires early Sunday before the California Highway Patrol shut down southbound lanes for nearly five hours in order to make repairs.
That particular crater wasn't the city of L.A.'s problem, but it put the age-old issue of day-to-day street maintenance back on the radar at a time when City Hall can ill afford to make promises. KTLA News was on Beverly Boulevard Sunday night as cars rattled and shaked over the Third World-like road. (Seriously, we've experienced smoother rides in Tijuana).
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Potholes open up every winter as rain exploits cracks and helps turn them into craters. Our dependence on multi-ton buses for public transportation doesn't help: The heavy beasts help tear up the right lanes of many boulevards, and they stop on reinforced platforms for a reason.
Still, we live in a city where our mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, would rather trek to Europe, appear on soap operas, and party with the stars than deal with L.A.'s historic budget deficit. He once made a vow to fix the city's potholes when it was a much easier promise to make. And we have a City Council that's much more comfortable outlawing cat declawing than doing its job on the budget mess.
Potholes aren't their fault. We whine about them because they touch us daily. We're a car-crazed and auto-dependent city. And we rarely think of City Hall until we need cops or get a parking ticket. Potholes remind of us our relationship with those folks on First Street. Potholes are where the rubber meets the road for L.A. city politics and its populace.
The craters are an apt sign of a city that crumbles while its leaders twiddle their thumbs. Potholes remind us of hard times in New York, Philadelphia, and yes, Tijuana. They're a sign that L.A. -- or at least its infrastructure -- has seen better days.