Long Beach released maps this week of where it will make $15 million in residential street improvements and where it will spend $26.3 million more on large-corridor projects and pedestrian safety enhancements over the next five years.
Some of the projects listed in the maps are already underway, like the reconstruction of Market Street and Artesia Boulevard in North Long Beach, but the maps show an ambitious blueprint for where streets will be resurfaced, slurry sealed or have other pedestrian safety elements added over the next few years.
City officials released the maps after explaining there’s a deadline for the repairs, which are being funded out of $90 million in borrowing the City Council authorized earlier this month. Because the money is being borrowed through tax-exempt bonds, the city will have to spend 85% of the funds over the next three years and all of it before the end of five years to avoid a potential $22 million penalty from the federal government.
The street repairs were included in a list of projects the city says it will finish in time to avoid the tax penalty, but it’s unclear in what order these projects will be completed.
The bonds were issued against the city’s future Measure A sales tax revenue, which the city’s voters adopted in 2016 and made permanent in 2020. The 1% sales tax increase was supposed to fund public facility improvements, street repairs as well as public safety but the majority of the funds have so far gone to the police and fire departments.
City officials said that issuing the bonds was a way to address infrastructure improvements like street repairs immediately—when they’re cheaper to fix—rather than letting them continue to deteriorate.
The $15 million planned specifically for residential streets is just a fraction of the $100 million the city said it plans to spend on that type of street over the next five years.
According to a 2020 analysis of the city’s streets network, which includes over 1,000 miles of roads, the average score of a city street is 56 out of 100. Over half of the city’s streets are considered “fair” or worse, with over 30% being rated as “very poor” or “poor,” according to city data.
Some streets will get a slurry seal, which is a water-asphalt emulsion that is applied to a street surface to fill in cracks and prevent moisture from entering the pavement. The slurry seal process could extend pavement life by five to seven years, according to the city.
Other streets could be resurfaced, which would extend their life by about 10-15 years. The worst-rated streets, which will be the most expensive to fix, would have to be fully reconstructed.
Some very-low-graded streets, such as Lemon Avenue between South Street and Artesia Boulevard in North Long Beach, and the entire stretch of Clark Avenue in East Long Beach, are on the list of anticipated repairs.
Major projects included in the maps are the planned overhaul of Studebaker Road, which will add protected bike lanes, medians and other pedestrian improvements from Second Street to Los Coyotes Diagonal.
The plans include work on Anaheim Street between the Los Angeles River and Ximeno Avenue, which will add pedestrian refuge medians for safer crossing, upgraded signals and restricted turns at some points along one of the city’s most dangerous streets for pedestrians. Part of that is being funded by a $7 million federal grant.
The maps also include early work to realign Shoreline Drive in anticipation of replacing the Shoemaker Bridge near Downtown. Funding for the bridge is not included and a recent estimate of the cost to replace it put it at around $650 million.