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El Gringo and road repairs in Teocelo. El Gringo and road repairs in Teocelo.

Tired of the potholes, citizens take action

Group takes on road repairs after rallying call by American resident

Many states in Mexico actually have budgets for repairing potholes, but motorists might be surprised to hear that.

And if there is such a budget in Veracruz, the money has not been getting through to Teocelo, a city about 20 kilometers from Xalapa, the state capital, famous for coffee, films that have been shot there — and crater-sized holes in its streets.

In response to the absence of road maintenance, residents decided to act on their own, and not by simply hand-filling the holes with earth and sand and expecting a few pesos from passing vehicles in return.

A stretch of calle 5 de mayo has been repaired using machinery and purchased materials after an American-born resident rallied local citizens. Gordon Lewis Strom Díaz, known as “El Gringo,” persuaded 60 citizens to get involved in the project, intended to reduce traffic accidents, improve safety and give the town a better image.

The group hired a construction firm and did the job themselves.

“We’re going ahead without them,” said El Gringo, referring to the local authorities.

Ironically, the street itself runs near municipal headquarters so those authorities were fully aware of its deficiencies. But according to Los Políticos Veracruz, street repairs have probably been neglected due to a shortage of financial resources.

Reports say that potholes measured as much 15-20 centimeters in depth and a meter in diameter.

One of the project’s volunteers, Jorge Polanco Rochín, said the street had been deteriorating for several years.

“The authorities are not interested in our community. The potholes had become craters, and were dangerous for residents . . . . We want a town free of potholes.”

Potholes, or baches as they are called in Spanish, can be costly.

The firm MTE Infrared, whose business is repairing potholes using an infrared temperature radiation technology, has estimated that poorly maintained roads cost 34 billion pesos a year in accidents and repairs in Mexico City alone.

States such as Jalisco have pothole repair budgets of up to 33 million pesos and in some cases the cost amounts to 20% of the total for public works, according to a report by Dinero en Imagen last year.

And Mexico City’s pothole repair costs were estimated as high as 172 million pesos in 2014.

MTE Infrared’s Rogelio Gonzalez said the problem boils down to water seeping through tiny cracks into the asphalt road surface during the rainy season, above all on roads that are heavily used.

As long as it continues to rain and municipalities keep running out of funds, there will be potholes.

Source: Los Políticos Veracruz (sp), Dinero en Imagen (sp)

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