The Pothole Problem Apr 02, 2014
Crater, cavity, pit…whatever you call potholes, we can all agree they are a big problem. Especially this year along the East Coast where record breaking cold temperatures and severe snow storms have caused one of the worst pothole seasons in recent memory.
Automobile owners have been paying out of pocket for costly repairs caused by these abundant and unavoidable potholes. Some people have had multiple repairs, blowing out a tire not once but numerous times this winter. Everyone we talk to feels there is no end in sight and people’s anger is starting to boil over. So it’s only fair that people start to ask questions of their government officials.
Angel Taveras, the mayor of Providence was quoted on TheAtlanticCities.com as saying, “The potholes that have resulted from this year’s severe winter weather are the worst that I can recall in many years.” Cleveland’s director of public works, Mike Cox, added to the sentiment saying, “We’ve been battling this problem all winter, and we’re still in winter mode.”
Battling is one way to put it. Patch crews have been working around the clock filling in problem areas as best they could in between snow storms. The crews and city officials have had their work cut out for them, however, because as soon as one storm’s patch work was complete, another storm followed shortly behind it, undoing all their hard work and creating new potholes.
Indianapolis public works department has responded to over 12,000 pothole complaints with thousands more needing to be addressed. Chicago has recorded over 47,000 complaints and New York City has filled nearly 255,000 potholes across the five boroughs this winter. Now that the snow season is behind us, road crews and city officials can get fully caught up on the pothole problem but as they try to do so, another problem is rearing its ugly head…funding!
With a set budget allocated to infrastructure repair and upkeep, cities have seen this funding dry up quicker than anticipated. It’s left city officials scrambling to find additional funds. In Colorado Springs, Mayor Steve Bach is asking for an additional $2 million in emergency money to fill potholes. In Minnesota, lawmakers are hoping to get an additional $15 million to fix roadways that are littered with potholes. Other cities including New York, Philadelphia and Stamford are all asking for additional funds.
Unlike snow, money doesn't fall from the sky and across the country politicians are turning to tax increases to fix the problem. While this will raise funds to help meet the public’s demand and calm their anger in regards to potholes, it will almost certainly annoy the public that their own wallets are being hit. Minnesota has proposed new sales taxes on wholesale fuels while in Olean, New York, property taxes could be on the rise. Los Angeles is considering a half-cent sales tax hike while Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mayor George Heartwell is hoping voters will support a city income tax for streets on the ballot this spring.
Taxpayers have started to question whether the burden should fall to local or federal government. There doesn't seem to be one clear-cut answer in sight but it is certain that no matter which road is chosen, the potholes are going to need repair. The pothole problem has raised many questions and maybe the most important one of all is where the money will come from to fill these holes.