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.