Sidewalks and gutters have become open trenches on the north side of Fourth Street between Alamitos Avenue and Elm Avenue as construction crews work to revamp the stretch of road.

In addition to sidewalk replacement and new curbs and gutters, the project includes driveway replacements, ADA compliant curb ramps, traffic improvements and resurfacing.

The work will add two more parking spaces to that section of the street, according to Public Works spokesperson Joy Contreras.

Due to the scope of the work being done, Public Works Director Eric Lopez acknowledged that businesses and residents in the area would be inconvenienced by some street closures.

“While there are short-term impacts, the long-term benefits way outweigh the month or so of inconvenience,” Lopez said. “Adequate water drainage, ADA-compliant sidewalks and having a roadway that is smooth to drive on, I think all those benefits have huge long-term payoffs.”

The work on the sidewalks, curbs and gutters will continue on the north side of the street up to Elm Avenue, allowing eastbound traffic down Fourth Street, Contreras said. Then work on the south side of the street will commence from Elm to Alamitos, allowing for westbound traffic.

Once both sides of the street have been improved, the full stretch will be resurfaced.

The work began last week and is expected to continue at least through March, Lopez said. The construction, however, could last through April if the city continues to experience high levels of rainfall, he added.

The project budget is $1.4 million, with $93,000 coming from the city’s Measure A funds and the remainder being paid for via a Measure M grant from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Contreras said.

Residents passed Long Beach’s Measure A sales tax increase in 2016 after it was marketed as a way to fund infrastructure improvements and public safety. From 2017, the first fiscal year the sales tax was active, through July of last year, Measure A generated over $357 million. Of those funds, $52 million has gone toward street repairs. The police and fire departments have received over $210 million. The remaining funds have been used for improving city parks, buildings and other infrastructure projects.

The city’s streets, meanwhile, continue to deteriorate faster than they can be repaired at the current spending levels. Each street across the city has a condition score out of 100 and, according to a July 2022 city memo, the average score was 58.

At the time, Lopez said the city would need to spend $81 million annually for five years to bring the average score up to 60. To bring the city average up to 80, a designation only 13% of city streets had seven months ago, it would cost $1.77 billion.

The Public Works department has a five-year plan outlining 98 pending Measure A projects through 2027, including 61 park improvement projects, 23 public facility projects, nine right-of-way, water quality and climate action projects, and 17 mobility projects, which include street improvements.

When asked this week about the allocation of Measure A funding between public safety and infrastructure, Lopez said his department is “getting more infrastructure dollars than we ever have out of Measure A.”

“It’s a tug-of-war, but I really do feel that we’re having a meaningful impact on our city’s infrastructure,” Lopez said. “We’re balancing all the different city needs.”

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