Jackson Road Hazards: Watch Out for the Potholes

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In September of last year I had the bright idea to start training for the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon in January. A full marathon consists of 26.2 miles, but a half marathon is only 13.1 miles. I saw a bumper sticker once that sums up the difference between the two perfectly: “13.1….because I’m only half crazy.” So after 4 months of running around Jackson and the Trace, race day was upon me.

The race stretched throughout the Jackson area zigzagging through parts of State Street, Jefferson Street, Pearl Street, and Belhaven just to name a few. Now, as a Jackson resident, I was aware of our less than stellar streets. Most of the time it feels like you’re driving on road that would put an old wooden roller coaster- one that throws you from side to side- to shame. Apparently race organizers had the same idea too. Race organizers started making precautions. Prior to race day, I had seen the news reports of the city filling up some areas of the race route with dirt to keep runners from tripping over potholes. They put up small barricades here and there too as extra precaution.

Well, try as they might, come race day, when 2, 572 individuals are running through the streets, those dirt filled holes and barricades weren’t much use. For us clumsy folk, added potholes and bumps in the road didn’t help our less than stellar race times. Certain sections of the road were closed off to traffic but at other times, cars were zooming past you. Over all, the race was a great experience and something I’d do again (remember: I’m only half crazy).

But it got me thinking. I was running along a course that had been fixed up and I still found trouble spots. What about the Jackson residents that ride their bikes or walk to work or school? They have to endure these roads and sidewalks day in and day out. It’s not uncommon for a bike tire to hit a bump or a hole in the road and send you crashing to the ground. It’s also not uncommon for a walker or a jogger to trip on uneven pavement in the sidewalk. As far as the zooming cars are concerned, as a cyclist in Mississippi, you are guaranteed at least three feet of space between you and the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle must reduce his speed- not zoom past you. Granted, when you are a bike it might feel like everyone is “zooming” past you. Unless you are Lance Armstrong.

Back to the road hazards. Jackson, just like other cities, has an obligation to maintain its roads and sidewalks for safe use. If the city, or governmental agency in charge of the road, fails to maintain a safe roadway, then there could possibly be an action for negligence. Of course, you would have to prove the city had notice of the road hazard and had reasonable time to fix it. By covering potholes in the street, Jackson has taken a step in fixing our roadway problems. But for a state that implemented the “Let’s Go Walkin’ Mississippi” program, more permanent measures should be taken. Jackson residents should not have to worry about potholes or uneven sidewalks during their commutes or exercise routines.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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