There no disputing the winter of 2010-2011 has been one of the harshest and stormiest in recent memory for students and citizens alike. The month of January brought a seemingly endless succession of powerful snowstorms, dumping large amounts of the cold white stuff on the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas. According to Michael Rawlins, Climatologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst a total accumulation of 39.9 inches was achieved in Amherst, the highest amount recorded since 1893.
Now, entering the last weeks of March, the 2011 pothole season is officially in full swing. Ed Blaguszewski, director of news and information at the University of Massachusetts Amherst talked about just how rough the roads around the college campus can become.
“Well this is officially pothole season,” said Blaguszewski. “So if you are on campus or off campus, many parts of the streets are a mess.”
Blaguszewski is not the only person to notice the significant amount of potholes that have appeared throughout Amherst this season. Many locally owned and operated auto repair establishments have seen a drastic increase in the amount of drivers coming in to get repairs, many of which have been the result of hitting massive potholes.
Manager of Amherst Tire Center, Dan Przechocki has seen this increase firsthand.
“This year has probably been the worst in the seven years I’ve been here (Amherst Tire Center),” said Przechocki. “We’ve done at least three times more tire replacements, damaged rims and side walls, potholes have been a big problem.”
Kelley Kavanagh, a senior at the UMass Amherst fell victim to a pothole earlier this month. While driving home from work Kavanagh was unable to avoid a large, deep pothole. Upon arriving at her apartment she noticed “it (her car) was making a really awful grinding sound.” After hearing the unsettling sound Kavanagh took her vehicle to North Amherst Motors where they told her the front axle of her vehicle had broken due to the incident with the pothole.
“It was estimated to be $500, and once I got it fixed it was $482,” said Kavanagh.
This particularly memorable pothole season hasn’t been bad for everyone. It has been a welcome sign for the tire and repair shops in Amherst, as with more broken axles, dented rims and blown-out tires comes more business and higher profits.
John Stanley, owner of College Street Motors has seen this pothole season as somewhat of a double-edged sword.
“In some ways it’s good for business, but bad for the driving public,” Stanley said.
Kavanagh, whose car and wallet suffered dearly from the pothole she hit is attempting to make the town of Amherst reimburse her for the damages inflicted on her vehicle.
“I submitted a claim to the town hall clerk’s office, with the estimate of how much it’s going to cost, which is $500,” said Kavanagh. “…it will take about a month by the time they get back to me on whether or not they’re going to reimburse me for the repairs. So I’ll just have to wait and see.”
As the 2010-2011 pothole season beings to wind down, and the weather continues to improve local public works departments will be more able to get ahead of the seemingly insurmountable number of pothole that have littered the streets of Amherst and the Pioneer Valley this year. Until then drivers need to keep a keen lookout for potholes. Otherwise they might be the latest person to visit a repair shop. All thanks to the scourge of drivers everywhere, the pothole.