Home City As potholes get filled on East State, impact on taxi business lingers

As potholes get filled on East State, impact on taxi business lingers

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The city successfully negotiated with asphalt plants, which are usually closed during winter months, to open early and produce a hot-mix asphalt to begin repairs as early as possible.

The potholes that plagued East State Street in Athens have been filled, according to the city’s engineering and public works department.

But the potholes have already cost businesses and citizens thousands in repairs. Laura Garotti, a manager and driver at Athens Green Cab, offered insight on the issues potholes cause for the taxi service and the preventive measures the company has taken to avoid damages.

“It’s really hard to avoid potholes on East State St. because our offices are actually pretty close to the Athena Grand,” Garotti said. “When I drive to work, I typically take the highway all the way around and then over by Holzer where I get off the highway and then backtrack.”

The city successfully negotiated with asphalt plants, which are usually closed during winter months, to open early and produce a hot-mix asphalt to begin repairs as early as possible. Previously, the city used a team of ten employees everyday to apply cold-mix asphalt as temporary fixes.

Garotti said there are times when East State Street cannot be avoided, such as when a customer needs a pickup at Walmart or a hotel located on the street, which accounts for a large part of their local business. In these cases, the drivers must traverse the street.

“Our drivers do their best to avoid the potholes but some of them span the entire road, and you don’t want to swerve too much because there are cars in the other lane and you don’t want to increase that risk,” Garotti said. “So we’ve lost a few tires here and there and have had slow leaks that we had to change the tire then, that gets expensive.”

An employee can be taken off their shift if repairs need to be done by a mechanic, she said. Garotti also said that the preventive measures drivers take to avoid East State Street and to reduce the risk of damage to the car result in slower pick up times and ultimately less commission for Green Cab employees. However, most repairs, such as tire changes, and minor issues are noted ahead of time or dealt with by drivers during their shift to avoid employees losing time on the clock. 

“The issue that a lot of people don’t think about is the suspension on some of the cars,” Garotti said. “Even if our tires are fine, we have to do repairs on the suspension and check up on it so that we’re safe to be out on the road in those cabs.”

Even driving over the city’s temporary fixes impacts the cabs’ suspension, she said.

Repairs were completed Monday by Freedom Construction Enterprises Inc., the contractor for Athens’ US 33 and East State Street project. The project detailed other improvements on East State Street such as an additional left turn lane and a new sidewalk along the south side of the street.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this report incorrectly identified the Athens Green Cab company. Further clarification on repair policies was also added. 

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