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'Tis the season for potholes

Elinor Tatum | 4/12/2011, 4:47 p.m.

Have you noticed these days you can't walk or drive a block in New York City and not come upon a gaping hole in the street that can eat the tire of a car or swallow up a small child?

This winter has been brutal and has wreaked havoc on roadways. Main avenues, small side streets, highways, freeways and parkways all have been whipped by this harsh winter.

When you drive down 125th Street in Harlem, you feel like you are crossing a minefield. Cars and trucks are getting stuck; people are afraid to go more than a snail's pace not wanting to damage the undercarriages of their cars.

And it seems like we haven't seen the worst of it yet.

The city has furloughed over 550 Department of Transportation workers in the first few months of this year. That means that there will be fewer man-hours available to fix these streets. In the meantime, the potholes are getting bigger, and more vehicles and people are likely to get hurt.

Our city streets are the way the city moves. Whether by walking, biking or driving, these dangerous road conditions jeopardize our safety. A few potholes here and there are expected, but we seem to be headed for a crisis, and very little is being said by the mayor or his administration about what they are going to do about these unacceptable conditions.

People falling as they cross the street, mothers struggling to navigate their strollers, trying to make sure their little tots don't fall out of the carriage, the streets seem more like an obstacle course rather than a mode of transportation.

I guess there is something positive that can come out of this. Car repair guys are likely seeing a big uptick in business as cars and trucks come into their shops with broken axels. I guess this is one way to end the recession and get people back working.

But I digress. The mayor and his administration have got to put in place a plan to alleviate these unacceptable conditions. Every time it snows, the problems get worse. The plows scrape the streets, pulling up the loose asphalt that has been cracked and dislodged. The salt doesn't help either by eating away at the soft patches of tar. A pothole appears.

By the day, the small holes become the large ones. Our city streets are the lifeblood of our metropolis. Our livelihoods depend on clean, dependable roadways being clean and safe. We understand that the city is strapped for cash and there are many competing interests for the few dollars that are available, but come on, basic road repair is a necessity.

Maybe some local politicians need to take a play out of the book of Senator "Pothole," Alfonse Marcello "Al" D'Amato. He knew that taking care of the basics was a key way to stay employed as a politician. We want to know that when we tell the city there is a problem, when we dial 311, we are really going to get some true constituent services.