Potholes Define Governments

Larry Price
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Wednesday - January 05, 2011
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A portion of the archipelago of potholes on Ahua Street, just off Nimitz Highway

When looking back over a year of astonishing events, it’s not prudent to claim that one stands out over the rest. It’s always a matter of opinion. But, having said that, if one astonishing event repeats itself I think that makes the event remarkable.

For some time in our fair city there has been a perceived link between the maintenance of potholes and city government efficiency. The discovery of potholes and their repair have been the subject of many a political campaign speech over the years. We even have a Pothole Hotline: 527-6006.

For that reason, my most memorable event of last year is the survival of one particular pothole in Honolulu with a longevity that is remarkable.

I know everyone has a favorite pothole they dodge every day getting to work. It’s a game a driver plays with the pothole that can leave the driver feeling either elated or furious. If you hit a “world-class” pothole, it will rattle your shock absorbers and separate your thoughts from your ideas. The instant reaction is to rationalize hitting the pothole because it was raining and was filled with water, thereby making it invisible, or you were in heavy traffic and couldn’t dodge the pothole without hitting another car. You will probably keep telling yourself that you are going to take an alternate route from now on, but drivers are creatures of habit, and before long you’re back on the same track and amazingly on the same road with the same world-class pothole. If you forget where it is and hit it, you will most always curse whoever the current mayor is - not that the curse will repair the pothole, it just makes you feel better.

I did a little non-scientific research to pinpoint the City and County of Honolulu’s most notable potholes. To my surprise, no one agreed where our most spectacular potholes are. Not only did everyone have a “favorite” pothole, they each had a reason why their favorite pothole was able to escape detection and repair.

Surprisingly, most people I questioned thought it depended on who your City Council member is. The perception is that Republican councilmembers’ districts come in on the bottom of the list. That doesn’t make sense, since city elections are non-partisan and there just aren’t that many politicians in the state who are not Democrats.

My favorite pothole has been in existence for more than three years. It is right off Nimitz Highway.

If you are coming off the freeway and don’t slow down when you turn right on Ahua Street, you are in for the shock of your life.

To begin with, you can’t miss this pothole because it goes right across Ahua Street. There is a series of potholes with various depths, some of them are at least 6-10 inches deep.

To make them more dangerous, they are usually filled with water so you can only see them during low tide.

That’s not a misprint.

Ahua Street is below sea level, and even if it’s not raining, during high tide the entrance of Ahua is underwater.

How deep is it?

On some occasions, there are little fish swimming in the deeper spots, proof that there’s a storm drain from one pothole that reaches the ocean.

Ahua Street is one of two main connections to Mapunapuna, a key industrial center. It’s amazing that after all these years the submerged potholes have not been repaired. I called a few people familiar with the area, and they have given up on getting the potholes fixed. One of the reason is jurisdiction - the old city versus state argument.

That doesn’t sound right. After all, everyone in the Mapunapuna district pays high taxes to both the city and the state of Hawaii.

They obviously deserve relief.

Editor’s note: Have a “favorite” pothole? Please tell us about it, with the location. E-mail entries with the subject line “pothole of the year” to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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