SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Some of San Diego's busiest roads are about to become a lot smoother, thanks to Mayor Todd Gloria's "Sexy Streets" Initiative.
"We are conditioned to say the infrastructure isn't sexy," says Gloria. "I really reject that notion."
"Sexy Streets" will transform 54 miles of San Diego roads, including some of the busiest roads in the city. Gloria budgeted $40 million specifically for this project.
"We have to prioritize these major thoroughfares," he says. "Euclid Avenue, Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Balboa, La Jolla Parkway."
In addition to paving the streets, the program will add things like bike lanes, improved sidewalks, and more accessible curbs. Gloria says there is also an emphasis on equity, to ensure under-served communities get their roads fixed after years of neglect.
"They feel like they've never been listened to, they've never been heard," says Gloria about people who live in some of San Diego's communities of color in Districts 4, 8, and 9. "No one's ever done anything. We're trying to change that."
But San Diego has been down this road before, with politicians promising big road improvements. All the while, people who drive in the city say things haven't gotten better.
In 2015, then Mayor Kevin Faulconer made roads one of his key issues. He promised to pave 1,000 miles of streets within five years.
By 2020, his office said they had paved 2,170 miles.
Gloria says those numbers are misleading, because they didn't focus on the right areas.
"My predecessor I think was very focused on small scale residential streets, often cul-de-sacs, where dozens of people might go in a day," says Gloria. "My focus is on having the most amount of benefit for the most number of San Diegans."
Data given to ABC 10News shows the city has spent more than 311 million dollars on road maintenance since 2014. In that time, the city's Road Assessment Score has climbed from 59 (out of 100) in 2011, to 72 in 2016.
Gloria has ordered a new, more comprehensive "Overall Condition Index" study of the roads to see what else needs to be done. He has plans to fix more than 500 miles of roads over the next few years.
"If I was king, and not mayor, I would pave all the streets tomorrow," says Gloria. "This OCI study, when it's complete, will give us really good data to say, 'This is the worst road. This is where we need to start,' in order to prepare our streets."
In addition to the $40 million for the "Sexy Streets" program, the Mayor's budget has more than $100 million for other road repairs and maintenance. He's asking for patience from people who wonder why their street isn't a "Sexy Street."
"We've been under-funding our infrastructure for decades," he says. "(Now we're) backing it up with the dollars and the policies to actually drive change in these communities."
To see the full list of "Sexy Streets," click here.