The pothole patrol

Haven’t seen this yet, but I’m sure I will sooner or later.

As the operators of the city’s Street Surface Assessment Vehicle — a van equipped with lasers that scan streets for rough patches, potholes and cracks — Bruno Rodriguez and Patrick Johnson take a lot of flak.

An elderly man on a scooter once crossed the center line to intercept them, waving his arms, and demanded that his road be fixed. Drivers have cut them off in the middle of the street, climbed from their cars and done the same.

“It happens all the time,” Johnson said. “My mom called me when she found out what I did and said, ‘Hey Patrick, you know, Airline is really messed up …’ ”

Johnson said he understands residents’ concerns. After all, Houston voters judged their city’s infrastructure bad enough to impose an annual fee on themselves last fall to fund $125 million a year in drainage and street repairs.

Campaigning last year for the referendum, now called Rebuild Houston, City Councilman Stephen Costello said need, not politics, should decide where the dollars are spent.

Costello believes the $500,000 van, combined with another city program now mapping areas of the city that struggle with flooding, may be exactly what is needed to ensure that happens.

“I campaigned on a need-based system and, as long as I’m here, I’m going to continue to advocate for that. But I know there are going to be 11 district council members,” he said, referencing the pending expansion of the City Council dictated by the 2010 Census. “There’s going to be issues of, ‘Each council district has needs.’ But I don’t want to forget older neighborhoods that really have been forgotten.”

You can see a list of bad streets and submit your own report here. Here’s one example that’s near and not so dear to my heart and rear axle:

From Allen Parkway all the way to I-10, the northbound lanes of Shepherd Drive are filled with large potholes and inadequate patch jobs that make the road nearly impassible at speeds in excess of 20 mph. As you cross over I-10, there is a large bump that is as large as a speedbump in the right two lanes. This continues as you head north on Shepherd, especially as you cross over 9th and 10th Streets.

As someone whose daily routine takes him over that stretch of road at least once, I’m nodding my head in vigorous agreement. Road construction may be inconvenient, but I can’t wait for it to happen there.

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