It's Cheaper to Fix LA's Roads Than to Keep Fixing the Damage They Cause Our Cars. A Lot Cheaper.

According to a new study by TRIP (via Curbed LA ), the poor quality of LA's roads costs drivers an average of $955 each year—more than any of the other California metro areas studied. For reference, that's more expensive than a year's worth of 30-day Metro passes, which would currently run you $900. Measure R, which is helping us build high-capacity transit, new road capacity, and funding bus operations throughout the county, costs each resident about $25 a year.

TRIP estimates that the additional costs associated with poor roads (i.e., additional wear and tear, increased maintenance and replacement costs, etc.) cost California drivers roughly $17 billion each year. That's in addition to the normal wear and tear that occurs even on pristine roads. LA County probably accounts for roughly $5 billion of that, given its size and the worse road condition here. (Sixty-five percent of our roads are rated "poor." Only 11 percent are rated "fair" or better.) The City of LA's share is probably roughly $2 billion per year, based on population.

The City has estimated that fixing all of its major roads would cost us about $3.9 billiona terrifying number, until you consider that we're already spending that every two years as our crumbling roads shake, rattle, and jolt our cars to pieces. The obvious response should be to charge drivers a fraction of that amount each year—$100 or $200 at most, or $10-15 per month—to get our roads back up to speed, with a bit thrown in from all residents, since we all benefit from good roads (just some much more than others).

Unfortunately, that's probably not very likely. Drivers generally seem more interested in blaming the city's politicians and "moochers" like transit riders and cyclists, rather than taking responsibility for the roads they use every day. The ultimate question is, how much do drivers value the right to continue blaming everyone but themselves? If it's more than $1,000 a year, we can expect LA's poor road conditions to persist for a long, long time.