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"Guerilla" road repair crews take on Michigan's potholes


Everybody gripes about Michigan's potholes.

But in Hamtramck, a group of friends is raising money to fix their roads themselves.

Jessica Paris said they came up with the idea over beers last week.

“I refer to [our roads] as the surface of the moon,” says Paris. “There are holes that are seriously big enough to take the tire off of a small car, and literally no way to avoid going into them because the entire road was cratered up.”

They call it Hamtramck Guerilla Road Repair. 

One guy knew where they could get a deal on some cold patch. And by Saturday they were out patching the worst of the potholes on their block.

“We just decided to do something about it,” says Paris. “Our city is doing a fantastic job with the resources that it has. But they don’t have enough resources to take care of all the roads.

“And so we know that they’re going to do the fire lanes and the major thoroughfares. We know the county roads will get done by the county. But our actual residential roads weren’t going to be taken care of anytime soon.”

The same guy with the cold patch connection also got some instruction on how to actually patch a pothole.

Tip: clear out the pothole first.

“The stuff we got came in a bag, and inside is essentially asphalt with, I would call it tar, but I don’t know that that’s what the substance is, exactly. It’s got some liquid on it basically. And you pour it into the hole and take a tamper and beat it down until it’s flat, and that hardens it up,” says Paris.

She says neighbors cheered. They got high fives. And they decided to do more than just their one block.   

"I've spoken to the city manager. And she's getting us basically an updated list of the roads that are going to be addressed by the city already, so we can make sure we put our efforts on the ones that can't be addressed by the city."

Now, they're trying to raise $5,000 through crowd funding to fix all the residential blocks that the city can't afford to repair. Paris estimates that’s about 120 blocks.

And she says come this Saturday, they’ll be out repairing the roads again. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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