Council makes command clear: Fix potholes, without delay

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2019

What started as a conversation about potholes in Port Arthur turned into a bumpy ride for some city staff members.

When it was done, City Councilmembers got this message through at their Tuesday meeting: They want results now, with no speed limits set.

City engineer Alberto Elefaño told councilmembers he’s veered away from their previously suggested patching material for fixing potholes and wants to try other means for pothole fixes that would last more than a week. He said the material that City Council members suggested earlier this year was hard to maneuver and “not much better than what we had previously.”

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Elefaño’s suggestion was to purchase new equipment, a truck that would heat up the potholes and make their repair more enduring. Interim City Manager Becky Underhill suggested a “workshop” with councilmembers to talk about new road projects.

That was when Councilmembers Harold Doucet and Raymond Scott heated up. Doucet said he wasn’t interested in workshops or simply talking: He wanted more communication from the staff and more discernible results.

“I’m not about a workshop any more. I’m very upset,” Doucet said, adding that city staff had set on one course for fixing potholes and councilmembers were telling constituents about what they believe is imminent progress. Now, Doucet said, councilmembers find the staff has taken other directions to fix the potholes.

“It’s not acceptable,” he said.

Doucet was joined by Scott and councilmembers Kaprina Frank and Thomas Kinlaw, who spoke more softly but got a similar message across: They have assured the public works department they would support their efforts with more funding, people and materials, but they expect results — now.

“We were under the impression that it was working,” Kinlaw said about the material the council had suggested. “It would have made more sense to come back to the council and said ‘We have had situations with this material.’ This council has given you everything to find solutions with potholes.”

Councilwoman Charlotte Moses offered to ride along with the repair crews to better understand the challenges they are facing.

Mayor Derrick Freeman suggested more staff to work later hours, including at night to get more potholes done faster. But bottom line, the councilmembers said, was the need to get the work done.

“We are really tired of talking about it,” Councilwoman Kaprina Frank said. “What’s next?

“We are at a stage where you have used the old, you’ve used the new, you’re talking about a truck. It’s time to make a decision and get it done,” Doucet said. “We want to make sure we understand one another. It’s time to make a decision. I’m no longer being patient. It’s time.”


See also: Bumpy roads: Street crew to tackle Port Arthur potholes