Potholes aplenty: Despite the tight budget, city roads need a fix

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The commitment to openness, accountability and reform by Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration is a refreshing change. But for many residents, good government is still about the basics, like eliminating Pittsburgh’s potholes.

Who can argue with that?

Nothing turns off a city dweller, business owner or traveler to town more than a bumpy, jarring ride that threatens a car’s tires, rims and suspension. And nothing else can give a good city a bad name more quickly. Which is why Mr. Peduto is trying to find ways to stretch Pittsburgh’s woefully small paving budget.

Some creative thinking will be needed soon to keep the city from falling further behind in taking care of its streets. Drivers filed 6,142 pothole complaints with Pittsburgh’s 311 Center in the year’s first three months, nearly 2,000 more than in all of 2013. Yet the city budget will be able to pave only 27 miles of streets this year, not the 70 to 80 miles that must be done.

Pittsburghers know the budget is tight and that spending is still under state oversight. By the same token, they don’t want their taxes raised, which would hurt the city.

So the administration must look for new ways to fix old, crumbling pavement. Shifting public works personnel and resources may be one way. A crash program to consolidate more city and county services, thus producing savings, may be another.

Necessity, of course, is the mother of invention, and Pittsburgh desperately needs to repair its roads now.

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