clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

'E-pothole reporting' still requires real-world repairs

The hand-painted sign read: "KILLER BRIGHAM CITY PEACHES!!!"

Well, it was an irresistible impulse. My trip to the grocery store could wait. I was on a mission.

I parked my car on the street next to the corner fruit stand and started to walk toward it. My eyes were fixed on the boxes teeming with nearly ripe fruit. I could smell peaches. I glanced at the small berm I'd have to negotiate to reach the stand. No problem.

The next thing I knew I was sprawled out on the pavement writhing in pain. A pothole had stopped my forward momentum. After crying out in agony and muttering a few unseemly words, I was helped to my feet by a kindly woman at the nearby shave ice stand. I popped open the hatch of my Subaru wagon and attempted to collect myself for the drive home. Being somewhat of a poster child for orthopedic medicine, I suspected I had at least sprained my ankle. Turned out it was fractured, not so horribly that surgery was needed (according to the obviously disappointed podiatrist) but fractured enough to require the wearing of a fetching black Velcro walking cast for the next six weeks.

It's been nearly a year since that twist of fate, if you will. The pothole is still there. It is still unfilled, although I've told a couple of high-ranking Salt Lake County officials about it. I even provided one of them a crude map I had drawn.

I know the county is attempting to cope with dwindling resources just like the rest of us. One little pothole isn't as important as ensuring that we keep convicts locked up in the county jail or that homebound seniors receive Meals on Wheels.

But it is irksome because the fruit stand and the shave ice place set up business in the same location again this summer. Should I get a hankering for a Brigham City peach in the coming weeks, I'm fairly certain I will give that pothole a wide berth. My concern is for other unsuspecting folks who, in their quest for a killer peach or a large blue-raspberry shave ice, end up with a killer fracture or worse.

Technology offers some hope, however.

The city of Pittsburgh is encouraging residents to download an iPhone application to report problems on the roads. The new app allows users to photograph the pothole or other concern, submit a complaint and exact location to the city's 311 system, which is a clearinghouse for non-emergency city service requests.

One city councilman calls the app an "e-democracy innovation."

Earlier this year, the city also launched pittsburghpothole.com, which enables people to report problems. The Web site, which features an online reporting form, states, "It is our goal to address pothole requests within 5 working days. Please submit your information on the form below. We appreciate your help in keeping our streets safe!"

Come winter, the app also can be used to report needed snow removal.

Now we're talking.

Turns out that Salt Lake County has some of the same reporting mechanisms, although the iPhone app isn't one of them. The home page of the county's Web site, www.co.slc.ut.us/, has a feature titled "No Wrong Door to County Government," complete with an online complaint form.

The Public Works Department page has phone numbers to report needed snow removal. The Public Works tab also has a cryptically titled "Citizen Concern Form" to report non-emergency issues online. According Salt Lake County's Web site, the turnaround time on filling potholes is 48 hours, weather permitting.

That hasn't been my experience with my face-to-face approach, but I'm willing to give Salt Lake County's online service a whirl.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Marjorie Cortez, who occasionally views "her" pothole from Google Earth (thus suggesting she is equally obsessed about this repair as she is Brigham City peaches), is a Deseret News editorial writer. E-mail her at marjorie@desnews.com.