Dear Michigan, please fix the damn roads

February 25, 2014


Driving down Schaefer toward Eight Mile in Detroit should not make me feel like I’m going to wreck my car. Driving down Greenfield should not make my stomach sink down to my toes, and hitting a pothole should not make me feel like I’m two seconds away from shitting my pants. These potholes for the past couple of years have been hell, and I find it hard to believe that Michigan’s Department of Transportation has the slightest clue about this problem.

During my driving years, I’ve mastered the art of dodging these potholes by taking shortcuts, taking different routes or completely jumping into the other lane, swerving back and forth just to miss them. I know I’m not the only one, which is sad, but it’s become a daily routine, I’m sure, for Detroiters and probably anyone driving through any urban city in Michigan. If you’re not hip to the pothole-dodging movement, you need to be or you’ll find yourself with damages to your car that MDOT won’t fix.

Trying to file a claim is a bit tricky and, quite frankly, MDOT’s conditions are beyond ridiculous. Let me explain:

For one, if something were to happen to your car, the incident must have been on a state trunkline, i.e., freeways. So if the incident were to happen on, say, Martin Luther King St. in Pontiac — another horrific site for the deadly craters — you’re shit out of luck. If the incident did happen on the freeway, you meet one of the criteria — however, there’s a catch: MDOT has to have been aware of that particular pothole for 30 days without repairing it in order for a claim to be eligible for reimbursement.

Oh, and did I mention you have to prove this?

So if that three-year-old pothole that just caused all your doors to fall off the hinges was never brought to their attention until the day you try to file a claim — or you have no way to prove their knowledge of the pothole — I have news for you, my friend: You’re shit out of luck … twice.

But besides the absurd rules to file a claim, what I can’t wrap my brain around is the simple fact that MDOT can let a street become so damaged to the point where you can actually tear your car up and then wait even more years to fix it. But are we to blame? Why do we allow ourselves to live in such conditions, hoping our complaints to our neighbors and local barbers or hairstylists be “heard through the grapevine” and just magically be fixed without voice or action?

Come on, Michigan. We have to do better than this.


  • mgk1177

    Great, tell me who to contact, I’m happy to send a letter or email as I can’t even get to the Kroger 1.5 miles from my house because of the insane amount of potholes on 8 Mile from…well from Grand River to at least Newburgh but the stretch from Farmington to Newburgh is horrific, a pothole ever 2 feet on both sides of both lanes, there’s NO way around them at all.

  • Jessica

    While I agree that potholes are a big problem, there are even more problems with this blog post, which is just spreading misinformation, rather than contributing to a useful discussion about the issue of Michigan roads.

    First of all, state roads include anything with an M, I or US designation – so, not just freeways. Telegraph, for example – that’s a state road.

    Secondly, most cities also offer the opportunity to file a claim if the damage occurs on a city road.

    Third, this implies that ALL roads are MDOT’s responsibility to fix. Clearly not true. They fix state roads, counties fix county roads, cities fix city roads. And it’s important to know that you can always call your city to report a pothole (even if it’s not a city road).

    Lastly, it’s clear that the problem isn’t that cities/counties/the state don’t WANT to fix the roads or aren’t aware of the problem – it’s the infrastructure of the roads, the methods we use to clean them of snow, and the lack of budget, staff and equipment to keep up with the HUGE number of potholes, especially with a winter like the one we’re in now.

    So all that said, I’m not really sure what the point of this piece is other than to complain.

  • Fiskboy

    I don’t see what the big deal is. Signed,
    The Tire and Wheel industry.

  • Melbel

    Actually, my cousins and I were just discussing this on Facebook. She has had 3 flat tires due to potholes she couldn’t avoid and both cities she contacted for reimbursement have said they are no longer reimbursing for pothole damage due to budget concerns. So, no, there is no guarantee a city will reimburse.

  • melbel

    Also, my father has worked asphalt and cement construction for decades. He says that the real problem is both the sub-par building codes and the fact that MI allows trucks to carry more weight per axle than most other states. If we want better roads, we need better codes. In addition, other states with the same weather and same snow removal methods do not have this problem. So, its definitely not that. MI has the 2nd worst roads in the country. And it’s obvious when you cross the border into Ohio or Indiana. The difference is insane!

  • OHGreat

    Oh but wait, it gets even better, yea Snyder wants to fix the roads but
    he wants YOU to pay for it with higher car registration fees. Oh by the
    way he gave Big Business huge tax cuts, lets see Snyder, instead of
    doing that you could have used that money for the roads instead of
    people that are just getting by a tax hike.

  • Chris

    That part of 8 mile is the worst! The portion west of Farmington Rd. is Wayne County DOT’s responsibility. East of Farmington Rd is Oakland County’s. You can email them from their website. But all they’ll do is chuck some tar near the hole and hope it goes in. :(