Los Angeles

Potholes Causing Injuries, Costing You Thousands

Los Angeles has a dangerous pothole and surface crack problem that's costing drivers thousands of dollars every year.

"The bicycling community refers to these (cracks) as valleys of death," Los Feliz bicyclist Patrick Pascal told NBC4, describing the 2-inch crack that brought him down.

"Next thing I knew, I was over there, and my bike was over there," he continued. "I broke my wrist, I broke my pelvis."

Between medical care and lost time on the job, Pascal expects the ordeal will cost him in the six figures.

But he's not the only one paying for street damage.

According to research by "TRIP," a national transportation research group, Los Angeles drivers are each paying nearly $2,500 a year for potholes and other surface problems. The money goes to auto repairs, car depreciation, insurance and fuel costs, and lost wages.

"It's an epidemic here in Los Angeles," Pascal's attorney Jim Pocrass told NBC4. "In terms of my clients, (payouts have been) in the millions."

Pocrass thinks the city has a duty to fix the potholes and cracks immediately, but the task is daunting: The Department of Street Services regularly grades the roadways, and nearly 40 percent of them score Ds and Fs.

As for what causes the surface damage? It's not just heavy traffic and wet weather.

According to L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin, utility work underground on sewer and gas lines — including the recent efforts to upgrade the city's aging water pipes — is altering the viability of the streets forever.

"You're saying that when they have to cut into the ground, there's a residual effect?" NBC4 asked Galperin.

"Absolutely," Galperin replied. "There's no question that after the city fills that hole, the street gets degraded."

For now, city workers scramble to seal potholes and cracks as quickly as they can, as city leaders ponder ways to fix the streets permanently.

"It's going to cost us a fortune, probably billions of dollars, to fix it," Galperin said.

If you want to see what grade your street gets, you can access the Department of Street Services' interactive map here.

Angelenos can also use the My LA 311 app to request services including trash pickup, street resurfacing and pothole repair.

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