I get it. California is in a tight financial spot. Governor Brown has the second worst job in the country, topped only by the President’s, both locked in a struggle with the Republicans who not only object to raising taxes for the very wealthy, they demand that taxes that are already in place be repealed, their recipe for reducing the deficit solely centered on budget cuts.
None of this makes my car happy and, by extension, myself. I live in a city that is worldwide known for its abysmal traffic. Needing to go somewhere during rush hour (which stretches between 7am and 11 am and then again from 3 pm to 8pm) requires careful planning and attentive study of Google maps. Living on the Westside used to be a pleasure – now it’s a gigantic hassle. Oftentimes I forego events in Hollywood or the Valley during the week because my stamina and my self-control can’t match my motivation. My social life is becoming a sorry state of affairs, hindered by too many people on the road at inconvenient times.
Last night was different. Last night I felt I could brave a trip to Beverly Hills for a Michael Connelly talk (Harry Bosch? The Lincoln Lawyer? I like his crime novels now and then). My car and I were sort of happily cruising along Wilshire Boulevard when I saw the Prius ahead of me being suddenly being swallowed by a crater of a pothole. Seriously, it was big enough for a 3-year-old to get lost in. The chassis of the poor Prius must have sustained some damage. And that is when I noticed that the whole stretch of Wilshire Boulevard between Westwood and Beverly Hills was a pothole avoidance course they should give prizes for once reaching the Santa Monica Boulevard light. For surviving it.
Clearly, none of my money is going towards road maintenance.
Where it is going, though, is towards the 405 expansion project. The 405 is one of those famed LA freeways one has come to cherish in movies. The Orange County – LA stretch is a permanent parking lot which is why widening it seemed like a good idea when the State still had some money in its coffers. At the rate they are working, by the time it’s finished, more people will have moved West, erasing any gains that an extra lane might have created.
In the meantime, while a tired soul is trying to make her way home back to the Westside at 10 pm, all the surface thoroughfares that border key 405 ramps are down to one lane, causing more bottlenecks than at 5 pm.
I do want to love LA but the Department of Public Works is challenging my affection every time I set foot in my car. And if I get swallowed by a giant pothole, I know they are too broke to pay me damages.