Michigan Boy Fills Potholes on His Own

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Monte Scott is just the latest to fill those craters with his own initiative. Meanwhile, the state’s governor and legislature mull a huge gas tax increase.

When both his mother and grandmother got flat tires on their cars from potholes on their street in late March, 12-year-old Monte Scott took matters into his own hands. He got a shovel, a barrel (without wheels) and some dirt, then filled in a few dozen potholes on the street outside his home in Muskegon Heights in western Michigan.

The story went viral –­ in social media (Twitter and Facebook) as well as on traditional media (USA Today, New York Daily News, The London Daily Mail, Reason, The Hill, Essence magazine, Ebony magazine and television news stations in 25 states). One Tweet from the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, includes a video clip of her congratulating him and encouraging him to one day run for office.

It’s a great story of individual initiative (even if the pothole repair method, using dirt instead of asphalt, might need some alteration as time goes on). But it’s not isolated. As reported previously on Pothole.info, fed-up citizens in many parts of the country often repair potholes with their own grit and self-purchased materials. It’s just the way some people express their outrage and frustration at the expense of car repairs that result from damages caused by broken pavement.

Michigan tried and failed in 2015 to pass a voter referendum to raise gas taxes to help pay for infrastructure repair, including crack sealing and repair of small potholes before they get bigger. Gov. Whitmer, elected in 2018, has turned to the state legislature to pass a 45-cents-per-gallon fuel tax increase to generate $2.5 billion for infrastructure repair.

“If we don’t raise the $2.5 billion we need to actually fix our roads the right way, with the right materials, the cost will continue to go up year after year,” Whitmer said in a statement that was reported by The Detroit News. “Patching potholes and ignoring the problem isn’t working. Instead, it’s hurting our families and businesses and holding our economy back.” She also cited numbers reported by The Road Information Program (TRIP), which says the state’s poor-quality roads, among the worst in the nation, add an average of $646 in vehicle operating costs to all cars in the state.

The tax would add, on average, $23 per month in gas costs per driver ($276 per year, which compares favorably to the TRIP figures). Whitmer’s political opponents in the state legislature criticized the plan for costing too much. Left unresolved is if the money would be spent on high-traffic roads or residential streets, such as the one Monte Scott was trying to repair.