Wolf Point Roads

When driving on the roads in your own city or town, how do they feel? Do they feel pleasant to drive on? If your answer is “no” then join the club because we’ve got jackets. The roads in Wolf Point, Montana, are awful.

If you have ever wondered, the main reason roads get so bad is due to environmental conditions. When this happens, potholes are created. Potholes can range from small to really big, depending on how much of a beating that part of the road has taken. After all, there’s always a part of the road that’s worse off than the rest.

The real danger of potholes is what they can do to your vehicle. When you drive over a pothole, your car receives a jolt, the severity of which depends on your vehicle’s size, the size of the pothole, your speed, etc. When the jolt occurs, damage is done to your tires, shocks, the frame of your car, and everything else. Potholes aside, other damages occur to the road such as cracks.

Along with the damages to the road and your vehicle, there’s also the cost. The cost to repair your car is exceptionally steep. Tiffany Lester, a reporter for NBC, went around Butte, Montana to gather her own findings. She received nothing but agreement from other members of the community. In one instance, a resident of Butte by the name of Cheyenne Standish said that potholes were everywhere and followed up with the joke: “They must breed overnight.” Tiffany Lester says that drivers spend billions on pothole damage repair a year (NBC Montana.com).

The American Automobile Association recorded that an average case of pothole damage repair costs around $300. Of course, seeing as Montana’s roads are famous for having potholes, that adds up to enough for someone to afford a mansion. According to Smart Growth America, our country’s leaders are less concerned about fixing our roads and instead build new ones. The leaders fail to see that fixing and preserving current roads are cheaper and much more ideal than wasting tons of taxpayer’s money on new roads we don’t need. The study also showed that over 64% of people are concerned about potholes (Smart Growth America.org).

In our town, potholes, cracks, and road trash are common. When I interviewed Rick Keller, an employee at NEMHS, he enlightened me as to just how bad the roads really are. His job requires him to traverse all of Wolf Point’s streets. He called the roads “hazardous to the safety of motor vehicles.” However, he did mention that the tribes on our reservation were preparing to address the situation by bringing a crew of workers to monitor and repair the roads in Wolf Point. Citizens of South Carolina are so fed up with the condition of the roads, they created a state website calling for everyone in South Carolina to join hands and force their state senators to address the problem and fix the roads (Fix South Carolina Roads.com).

There are some people, however, who consider the government itself as one of the big reasons for such high costs. According to Alex Davies of Wired magazine, President Barack Obama and his plan to address road repair are less than useless. Davies says, “Simply put, American roads and bridges are a disaster—and getting worse. In its most recent infrastructure ‘report card,’ the American Society of Civil Engineers gave US highways a D+, a sorry state of affairs that it estimates costs the nation $101 billion each year in lost time and fuel. Bridges got a C+. Roads in some urban areas are so terrible, driving on them costs car owners more than $1,000 a year in extra maintenance and fuel” (Wired.com).

Currently, there are others doing what they can to make the roads safer. For instance, Kongyan Chen, a technological researcher, aided in the development of a practical crowdsourcing-based road surface monitoring system or “CRSM.” According to Chen, this system will help notify, access, and report road problems so that the road crew can go about filling them (765-779). Then there are people like Delphine d’Amora who see an easy fix to the U.S highway system. She speculates that the government must pass a bill that will not only allow the Highway Service Fund (HTF) to fix the problems but will also allow for funding by tax. However, Congress is not quick to pass such a bill since the bill in 2005 failed and nearly ruined the HTF, as legislators were sending only the bare minimum to keep the HTF afloat (Mother Jones.com).

No matter how you look at it, there really is no absolute or final solution. The easiest thing we can do is make sure that our town or city’s road department does its job. After all, solutions to big problems start out small. As proud citizens of our own towns, we must take pride in our homes by staying on top of our roads’ condition.

Jhett Tiernan is a student at Fort Peck Community College.

References

Chen, K., et al. (2015, June). CRSM: A Practical Crowdsourcing-Based Road Surface Monitoring. Wireless Networks. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=9b65b088-cadd-4083-aa03-523116f2a376%40sessionmgr107&hid=103&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=113879301&db=afh

Davies, A. (2016, February 7). Even Obama’s Cray Cray Gas Tax Can’t Fix Our Roads. Wired. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2016/02/even-obamas-aggressive-gas-tax-isnt-enough-to-fix-our-roads/

d’Amora, D. (2015, October 29). There’s an Easy Fix for America’s Crumbling Highway System. Mother Jones. Retrieved from http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/10/theres-easy-fix-americas-crumbling-highway-system

Lester, T. (2016, February 19). Drivers Spend Billions on Vehicle Repairs for Pothole Damage. NBC Montana. Retrieved from http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/drivers-spend-billions-in-pothole-damage-repairs-to-vehicles/38089464

Smart Growth America. (2014, March 12). Road Repair. 12 March, 2014. Smart Growth America. Retrieved from http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/tag/road-repair/

South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fixscroads.com/

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