Potholes may be the inverse of speed bumps, but they’re far more effective.
At the risk of sounding like I’m flogging a dead horse, something has to be done about the potholes in St. Anthony because it’s beginning to affect my pocketbook. I realize the roads are supposed to be repaired in June, but how are drivers supposed to cope until then, and who is to foot the bill for damages caused by potholes? Isn’t it the town’s responsibility to maintain the roads, and if the roads are not properly maintained, shouldn’t the town recompense drivers for damages caused by adverse road conditions?
I drive into St. Anthony at least five times a week and drive home at least five times a week. To me, driving anywhere on the main street of St. Anthony is not unlike driving through a World War I battlefield; the roads look like they’ve been fired upon by artillery shells.
Lately the Town has been filling the potholes with sand every morning, and that is definitely a concession, not to mention a big improvement, but is filling potholes only done Monday to Friday? What about weekends?
I think no potholes were filled on the Easter weekend because I hit a pothole of the very worst kind.
Most of the time—to avoid the worst ones— I am forced to either slow down to such an extent that pedestrians far outstrip the speed of the car, or swing wide to try to find some bare pavement on the other side of the street, wending my way among the worst ones. On wet, rainy days this is particularly challenging because of oncoming traffic, the potholes, and pools of water on both sides of the road.
But let’s get back to Easter Day and the pothole-of-all-potholes. It was a bright sunny day with a light wind…half past noon and I was on my way to Shirley’s Haven for a visit. Traffic was light. I stopped at Tim Horton’s, picked up a coffee and turned right onto West Street, slowing down to navigate through the minefield of potholes, which, apparently, had not been filled with sand or gravel. When I finally cleared the worst area I increased my speed somewhat, keeping a sharp eye out for the deepest ones. I think I’d just passed the town hall when a car on the other side of the road swung into my lane to avoid a whole family of potholes, so I braked and sidled up near the curb to give the driver some room. There was water all along the curb so I never saw the pothole beneath the pool of water. CRASH! BAM! The whole car shuddered with the impact and the tire hitting the pothole sounded like a bomb blast. It was such a shocking sound—and such a shocking experience—I’m afraid a four letter d-word escaped from my mouth before I could rein it in.
I knew, I just knew, something BAD had happened to the tire, and fervently hoped nothing had happened to the rim. I got out and stepped around to the passenger side to inspect the damage. Sure enough, the right front tire had a bubble on the sidewall the size of a golf ball. Thankfully, the rim was only scraped, but in all likelihood the tire will have to be replaced.
If the roads cannot be repaired—yet—what can be done to lessen the likelihood of damage? Why can’t the Town place bright orange pylons, or traffic cones, in the potholes? Or paint a glow-in-the-dark orange circle around the circumference of the pothole? How about brightly-marked snow-fences to corral the worst of them? How about warning signs, or a pothole patrol seven days a week, rather than five?
I reiterate; it is the severity of the potholes, rather than speed, that is causing damage to vehicles, and the fact that in some places there is simply no place to drive without encountering them. Poorly drained streets are another cause of pothole-related accidents because pools of water are concealing the problem.
Does St. Anthony have a claims department for pothole-related accidents? St. John’s does. This week in The Telegram, Jonathan Galgay, chairman of the city’s public works committee, acknowledged payouts for pothole damage are rare, but said people should still file claims.
Hundreds of people drive into St. Anthony daily from the outlying communities to work, to shop, to attend schools, to go to hospital appointments or visits, to attend to personal business…in effect, for a wide variety of reasons. Nobody wants to pay through the nose for needless repairs.
So, what is the Town prepared to do to mitigate the damage that potholes are causing?