February 5, 2009

A Hidden Tax in the Middle of the Road

Justin Katz

Rhode Islanders are beginning to catch on, I think, to the game whereby the state government spends our tax dollars on labor costs, entitlements, and other non-essential or excessive line items and then returns to the taxpayers requesting the passage of bonds for infrastructural basics, like roads. As has come up on Anchor Rising, before, the scheme contains a hidden tax, as well:

Gaping potholes have opened up in town and are snagging cars left and right.

All on Feb. 2, police received reports of eight incidents where drivers struck a pot hole and seriously damaged their vehicles — and many more strikes went unreported. All of these incidents occurred on state roads, and those with damage to a vehicle resulting may be able to recoup up to $300 from the state. ...

A Portsmouth man said he was at the Cumberland Farms on East Main Road, between Pine Tree Road and Schoolhouse Lane, when he noticed four drivers in the parking lot with "blown out tires." Twenty minutes later, he got a call from his daughter who needed help changing a tire that was popped by the pothole near Pine Tree Road.

When he arrived to help his daughter, he said "another six cars were changing their tires at that time."

"This is outrageous," the man wrote in the report he filed with police. "Because it is a state road, police cannot do anything. Shame on the R.I.D.O.T."

Police checked out the pothole on East Main Road near Pine Tree Road and measured it at one foot wide.

Department of Transportation Public Affairs Officer Dana Nolfe said on Tuesday that DOT's dispatch received six calls that day about potholes on state roads in Portsmouth. Now that DOT is aware of them, she said, workers will go out and patch the holes as soon as the weather permits.

Yes, in the extreme, direct circumstances, the motorist can recoup some or all of the repair expense, but note the declining number: One eyewitness observed a total of thirteen cars, while police received reports of eight, and the DOT heard from four people (who weren't necessarily among those experiencing damage).

One also must remember that the $300 doesn't cover the lost time, productivity, and peace of mind on the day of the incident or of the repair. More broadly, it doesn't cover the gradual accelerated wear on the vehicles of everybody who drives over the miles of rough roads every day nor the time and aggravation of those who face the roads' effects on traffic. The right-hand southbound lane of West Main in Portsmouth is a painful ride — just about undrivable in a work van — so drivers tend to stay in the left, congesting flow.

To avoid such outcomes is why we pay taxes in the first place.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I called WPRO and Gina Brown "on-time-traffic" suggesting a new feature: POTHOLE PATROL where listeners are encouraged to call in dangerous potholes. (NO RESPONSE-hey this is RI afta all)! Yiikes.

Posted by: paul marshall at February 5, 2009 10:32 AM

We need a pothole patrol. My daughter just blew out tires on rt 24 in Tiverton. I asked her if she could have swerved to miss the pothole. She said the road is loaded with potholes, it's just a matter of which one you hit.

Great services. More proof that infrastructure maintainance does not happen.

Posted by: kathy at February 5, 2009 3:51 PM

It is fairly easy to create an on-line guide to holey rhodes using the Google map API:


Posted by: Robert Balliot at February 5, 2009 6:13 PM

I'm waiting, holding my breath, for Rhode Island's first bridge collapse like the one in Minnesota.

Pat Crowley and his mindless minions will blame it the weight of too many SUV's, rather than on the incompetence and corruption of Rhode Island government and its siphoning off maintenance money to fund teachers pensions.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 5, 2009 6:45 PM

If I remember right, weren't we supposed to use the tobacco settlement money on infrastructure? Oh yeah, we had to use it as a band-aid on the arterial bleed we call the state budget. Thank God voters approve that annual multimillion dollar DOT bailout because can you imagine what things would look like if we didn't???

Posted by: Steve A. at February 5, 2009 9:39 PM

If you people didn't have the government you have you would have to invent one on wich you could blame all the world's ills. I know it's a cold day in February but don't you think this whining is getting out of control. Better days are ahead.

Posted by: Phil at February 6, 2009 6:00 AM

Considering the government takes tax money every year which in part goes to fixing the roads and then takes another chunk of money from a ballot referendum, I think it's legitimate to question the government and/or complain. Is the alternative to sit back, be quiet, and enjoy the ride? If that had happened 235 years ago we'd all have British accents.

Posted by: Steve A at February 6, 2009 1:52 PM
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