The Problem with Potholes

By March 17, 2015 Memphis No Comments

This is not a devotional about potholes. I could try and be cute and stretch an analogy comparing the problems in our life to potholes, but I believe it would translate as cheesy and insincere.

If you have spent much time driving anywhere since “Snowmageddon 2015“, you have noticed the horrible condition of our roads. The problem is bigger than potholes. The truth and core of the problem is much deeper than our recent plague of potholes. Our National infrastructure is in dire need of an overhaul.

Complaining about the problem is rampant on the news and social media, but you will not get new smooth roads unless you complain to your congressmen. I have spent some time on Capitol Hill observing road builders lobby for a gas tax and infrastructure bill, and in each meeting, in every office, these requests are rejected. Congress believes that supporting a gas tax is political suicide. These men want to make a difference, but they also want to keep their jobs. Please take a minute to read and watch the links I have attached.

One of our local TV stations did a segment on potholes and my knowledgeable and eloquent husband replied with the following informative letter.

Comedy Central and HBO have also recognized the importance of infrastructure and produced these two very entertaining segments. (Please pardon some of the embarrassing and colorful language… their points are spot on).

John Oliver

Jon Stewart

If you are angry, speak up… Please.  To write your representatives in less than 90 seconds follow this LINK.

Stay safe out there!

From Patrick Nelson:


THIS IS OFF THE RECORD – Disclosure; I have a vested interest in road construction. 
Thank you for your reporting regarding the City of Memphis pothole issues.  It was a fair and thorough story of the current conditions after several vicious freeze thaw cycle that our city has experienced in recent weeks.
I wanted to take a brief moment and offer a perspective on what is the larger root cause of the issues that we are seeing.
Dwan Gillom and Mayor’s team are doing a great job of keeping an aging city infrastructure in the best shape they can with the resources they have available to them.  They have modernized their “patching fleet” and are actually pretty expeditious in getting most issues fixed in a timely manner.  I had a pothole in my cove about a year ago and used the City’s iPhone app to report it and it was fixed within 24 hours – pretty amazing!  The onslaught of repairs needed right now are natural due to the condition of our roads mixed with very strenuous weather conditions.
However, I want to offer that potholes are just the symptom.  Memphis drivers, correctly, are upset about the symptom and not the root cause.  The root cause is that our city’s infrastructure is on a nearly 50 year repaving cycle.  Asphalt simply is not intended for that kind of life cycle.  The result of neglecting our infrastructure is what we are seeing this winter meaning that the City is forced to play “whack-a-mole” trying to put their finger in a quickly leaking damn.  This problem will get worse and if current trends continue and we continue to have harsh winters it will overwhelm our ability to keep up.
Let me offer an example.  The roof on your house is 30 years old and is beginning to leak.  But you don’t have the money for a new roof so you patch the leak.  Its good for a few months but then you spring another leak.   So you patch that one and its good for a few more months.  On the story goes but unbeknownst to you some water is beginning to seep in a rot the decking under the shingles.  Then a bigger leak happens and it drips in and ruins the sheetrock in the den.  You patch it but don’t know about the rotting decking yet.  Then the straw that breaks the camels back – it drips in on your new flatscreen television and fries it.  Exasperated you finally breakdown and decide to put on a new roof.  The estimate that you got a couple of years ago was for $5000 dollars.  So you call the guy to come out and he informs you that since he looked at it last the decking is rotten and he needs to remove the old roof and replace some decking.  Now the estimate is $15,000 and you are have to spend $2500 on a new television and sheetrock repairs.
This is where we are today Sarah.  We are putting patches on an infrastructure that needs major repairs. The Federal gas tax has not been increased since 1993 and Tennessee’s gas tax has not increased since 1989.  I don’t know about you but I can’t buy anything today for the same price I could in 1989.  If the public is upset about road conditions in the City of otherwise it is time to invest in them.
Thanks for listening and feel free to call me if you have questions.

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