As everyone who has the pleasure of driving in Southwest Michigan knows, road conditions aren’t necessarily the best. Pot holes, debris from accidents, and just general garbage can damage the cars driving on the road. So, what happens when these conditions cause you to have a flat tire? With tire rates only continuing to grow, doesn’t it get aggravating when these conditions cause your car damage? What if you were to know the city could potentially reimburse you for this type of damage?
Pot Holes - Obviously
Michigan is notorious for its pot holes. There are so many memes about Michigan with “state flower is the traffic cone” or “if you’re swerving to avoid the pot holes, you’re sober. But if you’re driving straight, you’re pulled over.” Kalamazoo is no exception to these Michigander jokes. Most pot holes are relatively shallow, but Kalamazoo’s are true tire eaters. Not only do we have quantity, but most of these are so deep that they are guaranteed to do more than pop your tires. In fact, I’ve once seen one of these monster holes not only pop this woman’s tire, but completely turn it off the rim. It’s a good thing it’s construction season because these pot holes are doing more harm each spring.
Michiganders are so used to swerving along the road to avoid pot holes, but what about the car crashes that leave behind all sorts of debris? No matter the road, you will see all kinds of objects, most of which can pop your tires. Whether it's crushed headlights, glass from the windshield, or even tires themselves just laying all across the road. I’ve also seen nails and other sharp objects scattered, just waiting for a tire to drive by.
Just the other day I was driving on Gull Road, when the car in front of me threw a to-go food container filled with food out of their window. This caused the car directly next to me to swerve and almost hit my car. So, not only can littering cause accidents and obstacles on the road, but all of Kalamazoo is already scattered with garbage as it is. This causes safety issues for everyone, but shouldn’t the residents of Kalamazoo respect their city and environment enough to have just not asked for a to-go box so it could get thrown in the actual trash? Kalamazoo, learn your no trace ethics and pick up your crap.
Kalamazoo, Who Cleans Your Streets?
According to Sweeping Corp of America, which is a sweeping and jetvac service company that caters to 20 U.S. states, including Michigan, their services include sweeping parking lots, clearing highways, cleaning rural streets, AND clearing out debris from construction sites and other ‘events’. Now, I’m not sure if ‘events’ means parades and other community projects, or car crashes. Though, even just with the other services like highway clean up and parking lots they are only clean to a certain extent, but I’ve never seen either completely cleared. Has anyone else?
Having seen these street cleaners in action it is clear they do the general route of the roads, but considering the sweeper only goes so far to the curb these roads are never fully cleared of all of the obstacles in the road. Kalamazoo has 1,270.45 miles of road within 576 square miles within the county limits, which is a large radius to clean. Clearly the route systems don’t have every road cleaned every day, but since car wrecks tend to leave behind the most damage, you would think the company would get sent out after a crash has occurred.
Something most people probably don’t realize is that depending on where you hit a pot hole, you are entitled to reimbursement for damages to your vehicle. If you were to get a flat tire on an interstate, U.S. or state highway then you are eligible for this reimbursement claim. Unfortunately, if you believe the flat occurred from a local or county road then your claim won’t be accepted. If the damage to your vehicle was under $1,000 then MDOT has a claims process where you can report these damages.
Though this is available to people, the process of getting your claim through let alone accepted is extremely hard. For documentation purposes, you are required to have: a police report, photos of the accident, and a detailed invoice of repairs from your mechanic. After all of that is done, MDOT will take approximately 90 days to investigate and process your claim. Then, after the long and extensive process for this claim to get looked at, under governmental immunity laws roughly 65% of claims get denied.
Considering taxpayer dollars keep the roads up to date and pay the reimbursement on these claims, you would think the local government would act on either the cause or effect of these conditions. Since there isn’t enough money allocated to road construction and reimbursement, one would hope cleanup at least would be taken care of for drivers' safety if there isn't a more lasting solution for these roads. Due to the large radius of Kalamazoo County and number of roads, bridges, highways, etc. the local sweeping companies are certainly kept busy. While this is an extensive area to cover, Kalamazoo roads always appear to have debris of some kind.
What does everyone think about Kalamazoo’s road conditions? How often do you see crash materials and other debris on the road? How often do you see cleaners in the streets?