The City of Suffolk is neglecting its roads

Published 10:26 am Friday, February 19, 2016

Our editorials typically stick to issues within the city of Franklin or the counties of Southampton and Isle of Wight. But, with some of newsroom staff commuting to work each day from as far away as Virginia Beach, the lack of attention being paid to the potholes that line Route 58 in Suffolk is something that needs addressed.

If you’ve traveled to Hampton Roads via Route 58 lately, you’ve likely — actually, there’s no way you haven’t — encountered the car-rattling potholes that seem to be spreading by the dozens. The thousands of tractor trailers that ride down the highway daily only make it worse.

Because it’s not an interstate highway, the Virginia Department of Transportation is not responsible for Route 58 as it is for Route 64. Therefore, it falls upon the individual localities to fix the potholes, and the City of Suffolk said it can do nothing about it until the weather is warmer.

Potholes are an inevitable fact of life after it snows or if the temperature dips below freezing. When the temperature rises, the frozen asphalt and concrete thaws and cracks, and expansion and contraction combined with non-stop traffic intensifies the crack to a full-on pothole.

But a survey conducted by AAA stated that potholes have caused $15 billion worth of damage to vehicles in the United States over the past three years.

“On average, American drivers report paying $300 to repair pothole-related vehicle damage,” said AAA public affairs director Susan Hiltz. “Adding to the financial frustration, those whose vehicles incurred this type of damage had it happen frequently, with an average of three times in the last five years.”

Virginia laws permit drivers to file claims for damages caused by potholes, but the chance of proving the locality’s negligence in maintaining the roadway is very slim.

Seeing that it won’t be held responsible for any of these damages, there’s no reason for the City of Suffolk to rush into action now.

Meanwhile, Southampton County, which has the a majority of the same tractor trailer traffic as Suffolk, has a minimal number of potholes. Even then, those are quickly filled with gravel and sand until the warmer weather arrives.

We commend the county for its efforts in keeping the roadways in top shape as we go through yet another winter with seesawing temperatures. We also hope that those traveling to Hampton Roads remain safe and don’t end up in one of Suffolk’s craters.