This may approach the mother of all potholes. Well, the rough and roughly 70-foot strip of them on SW Durham Drive, heading toward Patterson Place (home of Home Depot) may be the family of all potholes, since there is a jagged slew of them there, depending on how you define pothole.
I define this picture of badly broken pavement as untoward and moving toward un-drivable. I’ve watched, and what many drivers do is skip this troubling turn lane altogether in order to save their tire rims or peace of mind or both.
Some of the holes are roundish. Some oblong. Some defy easy description. But I have pictures.
To my memory, I (and no doubt thousands of others) have surveyed this series of rutted ugliness just down from Githens Middle School just off Old Chapel Hill Road for a year or more. A YEAR.
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The pitiful state of disrepair has been in play longer than the typical apartment lease. And there’s the landscaped front of a fine apartment complex across the lane away from this mess.
It’s also ironic that “Durham” is actually in the name of a roadway that’s been partly obliterated for so long. Not exactly a showcase for the now bragged-about city.
It also looks as if that sketchy row of richly underserved turn lane has been patched up before.
It became time to test the system and get these bad boys on SW Durham Drive fixed. Or, at least try. What follows is the start of that story. One caveat: by the time you read this, they may be smoothed over. Pothole repair miracles never cease.
In fact, one area at the far end of this mess looks to have some new pavement slapped on it, sometime in the middle of my road research. Not sure why they didn’t just do them all.
On April 21, I called Durham One Call for the first time ever. It took a bit to get a live person. I listened to a significant number of super-polite “thank-yous” from an artificially preserved voice before speaking to a woman I’ll call her Jane.
The One Call employee took the info like a trooper, as if she had all day for me and me alone. I described the pothole-rut scenario in detail. I asked if One Call was the best way to report this run of ruts.
Jane said Old Chapel Hill Road might be a state highway. I made it clear that the potholes were most definitely not on Old Chapel Hill Road, but on SW Durham Drive. She said they might already be in the repair order system.
If I understood her correctly, Jane indicated that if I got a report number e-mailed to me, that would mean that these potholes weren’t in the system (which would shock me).
Bottom line, I kept saying only to myself: these dang things need to be fixed, maybe before Patterson Place grows into Pattersonville.
As we closed our conversation, I asked Jane how to report the potholes online. She told me. We hung up, and I did so. Before long, I got the confirmation, with the promised service request: 667139.
Soon, someone else from One Call phoned and left a message. I’ll call her Mary. I felt popular. Mary said the potholes in question were on a state road, and she gave me a number to call.
I suspect Mary was responding independently of my conversation with Jane.
I forgive her.
To cover my bases, though, I went ahead and called the state number. That voice mail voice sounded as if a secondhand robot recorded it in 1990. I left two messages with the details.
To date, no callback from the state hotline of something.
In closing, if the city of Durham (or maybe the state of North Carolina?) can’t get this roadway turn lane repaired after it’s featured in the newspaper, then something’s out of whack. On the other hand, this strip of bouncy eyesore shouldn’t rise above other tough cases in town that were called in before I contacted One Call. That wouldn’t be fair.
Indeed, there are probably worse, concentrated stretches of potholes and broken pavement in Durham somewhere. I suggest drivers report them. Keep the pothole pressure on. Pockmarked roads should not persist in a proud city.
As of this moment, the fate of my first ever One Call report, 667139, remains incomplete. For a year now, a road named SW Durham Drive deserves better.
You can reach Tom Gasparoli at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-219-0042.