The Pittsburgh Pothole Admiration Society

Spring in Pittsburgh. When trees bud, robins appear, and the roads are filled with potholes so deep, they make the Mines of Moria look like Kansas prairie.

On the news, commuters rage daily about the city’s pothole situation. Tires are blown, rims bent, small children rattled out of the car and lost, and denture wearers turning to heavier fixatives. Like tar.

But I think all these folks who are complaining just aren’t looking at it from the right angle. They’re not seeing the potential found in this season’s potholes. So I thought I would help, by offering my beloved city some top tips for "Pothole Appreciation." I believe, with a simple change in perspective, the pothole plenitude can be turned into a real asset for our region. Here are some preliminary suggestions:

Instead of continual patching—which we know never stays put anyway—why don’t we just scrape off the bit of road surface that’s left? Looking at it in pure square footage, there’s currently less of it than there are holes, anyway.
Now, this will cause Pittsburgh's overall elevation to be somewhat reduced. So it means that places like "The Bathtub"-- that part of the Parkway which inevitably gets covered by the Mon River-- to be permanently under water.

But all that requires is marketing spin. Think of Atlantis, and how that’s still a curiosity and a household name thousands of years later. If “Pittsburgh: The City of Bridges” could be spun into “Pittsburgh: Like Atlantis But Still Kicking,” this could be really good for the tourism market. This would also help out the local ferry lines, which could offer more points of interest on their tours.

Consider how potholes stimulate the economy. Wonky wheels, blow outs, tow services, people in vehicles trapped in six foot pits. All these things mean money is going to the autobody shops, tire companies, insurance companies, car dealers and hospitals. This means more people in theses industries are keeping their jobs. More jobs mean happier Pittsburghers. Also since many autobody shops are small businesses, this helps support local entrepreneurs. So, when you see a pothole, don't curse, swerve into oncoming traffic, or weep over the damage to your vehicle. Smile! Cheer! Say, "Hi, Mr. Pothole, I'm happy to meet ya! Thanks for helping keep our local mom-and-pop shop automotive repairmen as an integral part of our city's great neighborhoods!"

The Grand Canyon gets millions of visitors a year, and that’s just one big hole. We have thousands of holes across the city and suburbs, so why not take advantage of it? Organize a “Potholes of Interest” tour, choosing the most deep, dangerous and dynamic of the bunch to feature. We could name them, give them a little prestige. Plaques bought in bulk only cost a few dollars each, so offer sponsorships to companies and local celebrities for each plaque and naming rights. For instance, the “Pitt Football Pit.” Or the “Ben Rothlisberger Pass.” It could be sort of like the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There could be maps. The city needs this sort of new energy brought to it, and this “Potholes of Interest” plan might really get things rolling.

Look at it as an opportunity to test personal jetpacks as a city-wide transit option. With the fine technological minds available at our local universities, we have the astounding opportuntiyy to create Pittsburgh into the first jet-pack commuter city. Surely major research institutions would be happy to invest in this as a critical social experiment. How viable is it for our future? How cool would thousands of Steelers Fans look on television jettisoning from the stadium after a game? We'd be the envy of viewers all across the country.

Okay, sure, jetpacks don't currently allow movement over significant distances. But that's where the R&D comes in. Pittsburgh has transitioned so elegantly from a steel town to a technology hotbed. It's up to us to take advantage of it.

Now mind you, these are just the first round of ideas, designed to really get our families, our neighbors, and our city administrators thinking in new directions. But I firmly believe we can accomplish much if we all start to look at the as pothole half-full, instead of half-empty.

Thank you.

What do potholes and Humor-blogs have in common? A lot of dips-- myself included!


Greg said...

Oh, it's ABOUT time...I've been waiting for rocket jet-packs as long as I can remember.

Keep in mind, if you go the Grand Canyon route, you'll be able to further stimulate the economy by bringing work to all the people who'll be needed to build those glass observation decks!

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

The pot holes in our town here in Michigan are terrible, too. This is a funny blog entry. I especially like the Grand Canyon paragraph.

Anonymous said...

This great!

I live in Toronto and I think I have managed to drive into every darn pot hole in the city. I love the jet pack idea, I want 2.

Anonymous said...

Jenn, you should be the spokesperson for our government. They'd endorse your ideas here - and be perfectly serious about it! Viva Africa...

Unknown said...

So, Michigan and Toronto would also be up for the plan? Excellent!

Sylvia, I've driven around Toronto and you folks must have to pass some special Defensive Driving course just to live in your city. Gorgeous place and tons of fun, but I swear, I saw a guy drive up on the SIDEWALK on one part of Dumas...

I needed a Molson Canadian by the time I got to my hotel!

Clyde said...

thats pretty hilarious, you should check the conditions of our roads here in bombay

pretty freaking awesome, we have more potholes than roads in places!

Cheers :) Clyde

Unknown said...

So, Clyde, how do YOU feel about jetpacks? Would they assist you on your commute there in Mumbai? :)

Michael said...

You have to see this photo I took In the strip last weekend...

Only in Pittsburgh.

Unknown said...

Are half the cars in Pittsburgh trapped in it, Michael? Because I know there were a few in Squirrel Hill that might have had Lassie barking about Timmy being trapped in the well. :)

Unknown said...

If you guys don't feel like the Atlantis option is right for you, you should start to report potholes on

It's a map where you can report non-emergency issues. Once those responsible for fixing decide that they don't want everyone in the world to know about their unfixed potholes, they can create alerts based on their geographic area and location (and then start fixing).

We just started this in New Haven and its working wonders.
If you guys start entering clickets in Pittsburgh you might not have to by scuba gear to go grocery shopping.
(We've found that at about 75 tickets you start to get some attention.)

If you want to embed the map in your blog you can grab it here:

Unknown said...

Smells vaguely of freshly fried spam there, Ben, but at least it's mostly on-topic. :)