Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Next season promises to be jarring

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Greg Peck
Monday, February 17, 2014

My wife and I frequently travel that rough stretch of Randall Avenue just south of Mount Zion Avenue. Usually, I'm driving my vehicle. On Saturday, however, Cheryl was driving her car and—BAM! Despite trying to steer around them, she struck what seemed to be the biggest pothole available.

No doubt, many of you will unwittingly hit potholes in the coming weeks, as well. I can remember several years ago walking on Randall just south of Milwaukee Street, before that stretch was rebuilt, and a massive water-filled pothole springing a surprise on drivers and their suspensions. Each car that hit it sent a stream of water clear across the adjacent sidewalk.

Fortunately, as Marcia Nelesen reported in today's Gazette, the city will rebuild Randall between Mount Zion and Sherman avenues this year. It had planned to do so last year but put it off when it determined the project should be more extensive—and more expensive—than budgeted. Too bad. It will do nothing to help unsuspecting drivers this spring.

In the Feb. 9 Gazette, reporter Nick Crow interviewed area public works officials who expect that all that frost in the ground and all that salt spread because of so many snowfalls will likely add up to a worse-than-usual pothole season when the freezing-and-thawing cycle hits. Great. And after today's predicted big snowfall, the first thawing temperatures in a month are predicted for tomorrow. Proceed with caution.

On Sunday I read James E. Clausey's column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He reported that a 2013 study by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based transportation research group, found that pothole-ridden roads cost Milwaukee-area drivers an average of $700 a year. Maybe those drivers and their cars absorb bigger hits because TRIP deemed 48 percent of Milwaukee roads in poor condition, eighth worse among large U.S. cities.

That seems like a lot of money. Then I remembered the roughly $200 I spent last year on my 2006 vehicle to replace rear sway bar links. My dealer also recommended replacing the front ones. I'm no mechanic, but it seems like rough roads must be taking their toll on such equipment.

Speaking of rough roads, it's not just potholes we must watch for. Have you driven County A east of Highway 14 lately? I did about three weeks ago to enjoy a fish fry at the Duck Inn. At least the dinner was good. Stretches of the ride out there were like driving on a washboard. I hit one dip so hard at highway speed that I nearly bottomed out. That can't be good for all that hardware under the car. I couldn't remember exactly where that big dip was on the way back, but after hitting it hard again, I watched the mileage gauge and found it was almost exactly 2 miles east of Highway 14.

If Rock County hasn't posted a “caution, bump” sign there yet and the ground hasn't naturally ironed itself out, the county could save motorists lots of irritation and costly repairs by placing one.

In the meantime, if you know of a particularly nasty pothole that the city of Janesville should fill in, call the city services department at 608-755-3110. You might be doing all drivers a favor, even if their mechanics want the business.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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