More of San Diego's Worst Streets Being Upgraded by $74M in Fixes

Another major effort to bring San Diego's worst streets out of their shabby state of disrepair got underway Monday.

Over the next year, the city expects to upgrade about 300 miles -- double the distance of last year’s fixes -- at a cost of $74 million.

The five-year target is to fix a thousand miles, almost a third of San Diego’s roadway system.

The last complete survey of city streets in 2011 showed that 40 percent were in "fair" condition, with 25 percent rated "poor."

By now there’s increasing momentum toward getting those numbers into higher categories.

Monday’s starting point for the latest push was the 9900 block of Rio San Diego Road in Mission Valley.

It's a heavily traveled stretch through dense housing complexes, business and commercial centers that gets even more traffic during Chargers game days and holiday shopping season.

Nearby residents watching the news conference involving a delegation of City Hall bigwigs, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer and two councilmembers, were happy to get the word.

"I like that they're actually fixing the roads. Potholes can be pretty inconvenient to everybody and it's dangerous," Tonia Gamara told NBC 7.

"Especially when it rains, obviously the new potholes emerge and it's pretty important that they do this … it's the danger factor and people can get hurt," she added.

Officials say about a third of the work calls for a "mill and pave overlay," which should last about five years.

Most of the rest will take a more superficial "slurry seal" application," with a small fraction needing deep new concrete replacements.

It's a given that motorists will applaud the accelerated improvements, but the news figures to be even more welcome to folks traveling on two wheels.

Bicyclists don't have cushy tires and shock absorbers to soften the jarring of cracks and potholes, or seat belts and air bags to protect them from worse outcomes.

"It's needed, to put some money into it -- I could definitely see that,” said Greg Bayard, as he lugged a racing bike into North Park’s Adams Avenue Bicycles for tire repairs.

"It's pretty easy to get a flat tire," he said. "When the rain comes, you can see the cracks open up. It's definitely not the quality that you would see in some other cities."

Nate Whitsell, one of the shop’s mechanics, seconded that observation.

"I've had my hands knocked off the handlebars, not seeing a pothole, not seeing a crack in the road, and had some close calls,” Whitsell recalled. “But that's something we've come to expect and accept bicycling in San Diego … obviously, as they continue to pave, we're just thankful."

All this work isn't just being bankrolled by San Diego bond money.

Also in the mix are regional TransNet gas taxes and state Proposition 42 funds, accounting for the many other drivers – and cyclists -- who use city streets.

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