Crumbling roads leave Delhi Township rechristened as “PotHolt”

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Stephen Olschanski

A minor pothole on Adelpha Rd., Delhi Township, Mich.

Holt and Delhi Township are not devoid of the same problem which has badgered town and city roads ever since the country flipped main routes of travel from dirt to pavement — potholes.

“All of them,” Delhi Township Supervisor John Hayhoe said of the roads that needed some patchwork in Delhi Township. “Probably all of them. All the secondary roads are getting bad and again that’s one of those things where we don’t have the funds for the road as a township.”

Therein lies the problem, Delhi Township cannot do anything about the widening cracks in the asphalt on its own. Ingham County, which houses Delhi Township, controls road repair.

“The county gets most of their money from the state,” Hayhoe said. “And when you hear of the state getting money they like to spend it on their highways, their bridges … and what’s left they give it away to the 83 counties they divvy it up with.”

Furthermore, it is up to residents to report the potholes to the county in order for them to be fixed. Residents have a few options for reporting potholes, by either emailing the county or calling the county road department directly.

“Everybody tries to do the best they can and it all comes down to money nowadays,” Hayhoe said.

Misconceptions have persisted about where funding for repairs comes from as Ingham County Road Department Director of Operations Tom Gamez Jr. said, “a lot people believe because they pay a large property tax that part of our income goes to (road repair.)”

Pothole repair funds however come from the state’s gas tax revenue which was further increased this year from 19 cents to 26.3 cents.

Potholes in the area are unmistakably felt on the side streets of the township and in residential areas leaving some to comment on Facebook about perceived less than stellar conditions.

“Really think Holt needs to do something about there side road’s! They are horrible an I’m sick of it!” read the most recent post to The Real Holt Community Matters page on Facebook.

Complaints too seem to flow into the county as quickly as the potholes open up.

“Over 1,000,” Gamez Jr., said of the amount of complaints the department receives per year on average. “We get three or four a day this time of year.”

Gamez Jr., added the response time to a pothole complaint is approximately 24 hours and if the pothole is “big enough for someone to call in, we take it serious.”

Crews dispatched by the department check the pothole for larger issues such as a water main break or a sewer line failure.

Potholes have nearly become akin to a native species in Michigan as hundreds of thousands of the widening cracks in the pavement open up year after year. With increasingly harsh winters and heavier traffic flows potholes have become more common.

“The problem with potholes is fixing potholes, really fixing potholes, is it requires an enormous amount of work and a lot of money,” retired University of Southern California Director of Keston Institute of Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy Richard Little said.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) spent $43.76 million combined on pothole repairs between 2008-2013 according to its website. Pothole repairs have become recurring cost with question on their value and time.

“The problem is it takes a long time and it pisses people off enormously because it takes lane capacity away,” Little said. “It’s just a lot easier to go down and pour hot mix into it every year or twice a year.”

Potholes have become a recurring nuisance with no sure fix which won’t cause further headaches for an impatient populace.

“Eventually they get so bad you can see all the way to China,” Little said. “When it get’s that bad then you have to do something, but a lot of it is pragmatic. But you have to keep the roads open, if potholes are terrible people will break a wheel … it screws up their cars so you go out and you fill it up. Then you try to prevent that from happening. It’s not a good long-term fix but sometimes it’s the best you can do.”

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