In a new series we call Getting Around Metro Detroit we are highlighting problems and exploring the solutions, from insurance to mass transit to potholes.
One neighborhood in Waterford has been frustrated with what they felt was a lack of action after 6 months of reporting potholes that consumed an entire lane of traffic, so they reached out to 7 Action News.
We got some action for the community, found out what took so long and proposed a solution to the Oakland County Road Commission that could change the way things are done.
Andrew Varnon and his wife moved to Waterford from Chicago a year ago.
Costa Mesa is the main access point to his neighborhood and it’s been riddled with potholes since he and his wife moved in.
“My wife calls this “Mario Cart” cause you have to jog around all the little potholes,” says Varnon.
Although he and his wife love playing the video game, he says the real life version isn’t as fun.
“This isn’t nearly as fun when you’re dealing with real cars and real risk of damage,” says Varnon.
It’s been a big adjustment.
“Potholes were never like that in Chicago.”
His neighborhood association encouraged him and his neighbors to report the potholes on Oakland County’s website.
“I started contacting Oakland County back in January, they never gave me any response,” says Varnon.
Many of his neighbors contacted them multiple times too, some even sending photos of damaged cars.
“Reporting is actually very easy to do on the Oakland County Commission website but the action seems to be much slower,” says Varnon.
7 Action News contacted the Oakland County Road Commission to see what was going on.
“Between January and March we were mainly addressing snow and trying to patch potholes when we could,” explains Craig Bryson with the Oakland County Road Commission.
“Subdivision streets unfortunately are lower priority because the speed is lower and there’s far less traffic,” says Bryson.
But Varnan and his neighbors didn’t know any of that which was another cause for frustration in the course of 6 months.
“Lack of communication,” says Varnon.
“We get about 50,000 contacts from the public a year and we’ve got about 5 people responding to them,” Bryson explains.
7 Action News suggested the Road Commission send an automatic email response that gives an estimated time for repairs based upon the season or length of the current “to do” list along with an explanation of how repairs are prioritized.
“That’s a good idea and I will talk to our customer service about it,” says Bryson. “We don’t like to have people frustrated, we wish we could respond to them more quickly we want to give them as much information as possible so that’s a great idea.”
Meanwhile those big potholes were filled this morning and those driving Costa Mesa every day, couldn’t be happier.
The Oakland County Road Commission says sometimes response is slow because the issue is bigger than just a pothole.
Sometimes the integrity of the road in compromised and a resident needs to file a petition, circulate it, gather signatures from over 51% of the neighborhood agreeing to pay for the repair. It’s a special assessment request.
To determine if this applies to your situation, call the Oakland County Road Commission and ask to speak with the neighborhood division.