Potholes are in the news, twelve months out of the year – which defies the popular perception that potholes are simply the result of winter freeze-thaw cycles. In some cases, the newsworthy potholes of summer are holdovers from six months prior, but even winter-free tropical regions get chuckholes from moisture, solar heat and traffic wear and tear.
This is the pothole report from the summer of 2010. It was a bad time for racecars, parades and restaurants in unfortunate locations. Some local leaders had the Solomonic task of choosing between golf courses and navigable streets. And at least one pothole protest group has adopted the unusual strategy of stocking potholes with fish – to celebrate their country’s newly-proclaimed National Pothole Day.
On the upside, pothole management is going high tech. Cars with smart black boxes can record where the pavement has gone to pot, and cellular phone apps enable citizen reporting of the worst potholes. Civilization advances, one pothole at a time.
Pothole buzz kill
Daytona Speedway gets new layer of asphalt – after pothole debacle of 2010
To race car drivers Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty and Jeff Gordon, winning the Daytona 500 was a career pinnacle. But the 52-year old racetrack was always known for its bumpiness – and reached its nadir when a pothole repair on the track delayed the start of the 2010 race by two-and-a-half hours. Nielsen Media Research ratings for the race indicated a loss of 2.65 million viewers from the average viewing audience size (vs. the previous year’s audience) due to the delay. More than 50,000 tons of new asphalt is being reset on the track for the 2010 season at a cost of $20 million, reports TBO.com (Tampa Bay Online).
Potholes were the rain on this parade
The annual Fourth of July parade in Grants, New Mexico had to be cut short by about a third due to potholes on the parade route. The Cibola Beacon alerted residents of this change just four days in advance, but also reported that the city of Grants would have the problem fixed in time for the 10th annual Fire and Ice Historic Route 66 Bike Rally, two weeks later.
Pothole splash scares away restaurant customers
Scottish restaurateur Abdul Jalil says it is not the pothole per sé that is keeping customers away from his restaurant. Rather, it’s the water in that pothole after a heavy rain that is the problem. Situated right by his front door, the splash of water from passing vehicles is so significant it muddies the entrance area, including his door and windows. The growing size of the pothole only makes it worse, reports the Scotsman.com
18 holes – or holes in the pavement?
The city of Chicopee, Massachusetts wrestled with a major decision in the June city council meeting: spend $125,000 to make improvements to the city-owned golf course, or allocate those funds instead to fixing the street’s potholes. Part of the dilemma is they are using city employees for golf course fixes, a workforce that otherwise does road repair. The mayor told Masslive.com that the roadwork might have to wait until other construction is completed in the city.
We shouldn’t laugh
Potholes too treacherous for pedestrians in stilettos
Reporter Marcy Martinez tells television viewers in East San Francisco how “getting across the street on foot could end badly.” The reporter sports no-nonsense 4-inch heels as she totters across a street and explains the news station’s Pothole Patrol service to viewers. She uses the shoes to illustrate how one particular business district street has multiple holes that go three and four inches deep.
Australian hoons use seaside potholes for sport
In the coastal community of Portarlington, Australia (near Melbourne), a police sergeant says a particularly rough patch of road called Beach Parade has become an attraction for “hoons,” a derogatory Aussie term for young people who engage in loutish and anti-social behavior (similar to hoods and hooligans, one assumes). Said hoons try to demonstrate their ability to dodge potholes while driving late at night – which regular drivers do all day long, according to this report in the Geelong Independent online newspaper.
Stocking potholes with fish for National Pothole Day
Do you think the only problems in Africa are blood diamonds or cataclysmic civil wars? Consider also the Uganda pothole problems, and what the pothole activists (yes, that’s what they are called on the AllAfrica.com news site) are doing about it. Reporting from Nairobi, writer Charles Onyango-Obbo says the protest group staged a demonstration where they put fish in potholes in Kampala and declared it National Pothole Day. Onyango-Obbo goes on to say that when looking at small versus large tasks of local government, the larger will never happen if the smaller tasks go undone. He thinks of potholes as one of the larger of the problems in that city.
“Worse than in Armenia” may be European pothole standard
A sales director for a packaging company in Wales was certifiably miffed when he spoke to the Cardiff city council. He said the damage his own vehicle suffered from a pothole convinced him the town is devolving into the unthinkable: as bad as in the bankrupt former Soviet satellite states. “The condition of Rover Way (in Cardiff) is like a third world country,” said Alwyn Evans. “I’ve been to Yerevan in Armenia and Kiev in the Urkraine. The potholes there are legendary because of the winters they have, but Rover Way would beat it,” WalesOnline.co.uk reports.
North Carolina potholes face attack of the killer Droids (and iPhones)
Citizens can now patrol the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina to find and report potholes, deteriorating sidewalks and damaged street signs. Using the SeeClickFix.com application in use in other cities, a tech-oriented city council member is self-funding the $100 per month for the service ($100 is a reduced price as the program covers only one city council district – the city-wide price would be approximately four times as much). Pothole-spotters take photos of damaged pavement, type a message regarding the location and other details they choose to include, then send it to the city council office. The Charlotte News-Observer reports on how this move sits well with tech-savvy residents who work in the region’s vaunted Research Triangle.
Intel introduces aircraft-style black box for cars; potholes on screen
The blog AutoMotto.org reported in July that leading technology developer Intel Corporation has created an auto black box. It can record information about the vehicle and driver’s moves – such things as vehicle speed, steering and braking – and also take video footage outside the vehicle. Developers say it can be programmed to take control from motorists when necessary, and it can detect potholes and send maintenance alerts to designated recipients, such as a local department of transportation.