Trenching Index

* There are 12,747 city blocks in San Francisco. More than 11 percent of them — 1,483, to be precise — have been dug up at least 10 times since they were last paved.

* It costs just $50 for a permit to dig up a street, and they are issued by the thousands to companies installing cable, fiber-optics, utilities, and other underground lines.

* In fiscal year 1994, the total square footage of streets excavated was 562,000. By 1998, the total had risen to 720,000.

* In fiscal year 1997, the city issued 3,064 permits for utilities and others to dig up streets. Right now, Pacific Gas & Electric alone has outstanding permits to excavate 432 city blocks.

* In fiscal year 1997, the city spent $14.1 million repaving streets. Today, 50 percent of streets still need to be repaved.

* In the next five years, the Department of Public Works expects to repave 2,435 city blocks. But during the next five years, at least 4,369 city blocks will be dug up, including 3,500 just by utility companies.

* While 19 percent of the city's streets are repaved in the next five years, 33 percent will be cut open.

* The city has only five inspectors to check up on the thousands of excavation projects. Since September 8, crews supposedly have been forbidden from digging before 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m. But inspectors have written 400 citations to crews working outside the permitted hours. Each citation carries a $271 fine.

Note: Fiscal years from July 1 to June 30. Source: San Francisco Department of Public Works

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