Roads taking a toll on cars and drivers

By Angie Schmitt

Roads taking a toll on cars and drivers

“It’s been crazy. Every day we’re seeing blown sidewalls and damaged wheels.”

Brian Krepps

Flynn’s Tire and Auto

YOUNGSTOWN — Ashley Robinson, 21, was home visiting from The Ohio State University when bad luck struck in the form of a pothole.

A 2-foot chasm in South Avenue left Robinson with a blown tire and a broken rim. The damage was so severe that Robinson’s mother, Victoria Allen, had to rent a car to get her daughter back to campus.

The unfortunate incident cost Allen $542.87.

As winter unleashes its late fury on the Valley and its roads, stories such as Robinson’s have become common at Flynn’s Tire and Auto Service on Mahoning Avenue. Employee Brian Krepps says he’s never seen it so bad.

“This has been our biggest original-equipment, wheel-replacement year,” he said. “It’s been crazy. Every day we’re seeing blown sidewalls and damaged wheels.”

Sean McKinney, buildings and grounds commissioner for the city of Youngstown, said the street department is hard at work patching potholes.

“Because of the weather, it’s been a challenging plight for not only the townships but the city as well,’ said McKinney.

Flynn’s employees say road conditions are treacherous in Austintown and Boardman, as well.

“There’s no real bad spots — it’s just all bad,” Krepps said.

For example, a pothole is suspected as the cause of a fatal accident in Columbiana County.

A woman was killed in a crash on state Route 165 in Unity Township about 7:18 a.m. Tuesday. The Lisbon Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said that Pauline Miller, 48, of East Palestine, was driving a car north while Joseph Goscenski, 60, of Moon Township, Pa., was driving south in a truck.

The patrol said the truck struck a large pothole, and Goscenski lost control of the vehicle, which went left of center and struck Miller’s car head-on. Miller was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is continuing.

In Youngstown, Mayor Jay Williams said street crews will be forced to patch the problems until the resurfacing program can begin this summer.

“Every year about this time it seems to be worse than the previous year,” said Williams. “I think, what it is, at this point we’re all just sick of the weather.”

That’s little consolation for Robinson and the 13 other motorists who have filed claims with Youngstown, hoping to recoup expenses incurred on rough roads. The city has denied all 14 claims on the grounds that it was not liable for damages because it did not have “actual or constructive knowledge of the damage,” before the incident.

The denial was a difficult financial setback for Allen, who works as a customer service representative.

“I do think that was wrong,” she said. “I don’t have any way of proving that that pothole was there.”

Another claimant, who wished to remain unidentifiedd. was similarly frustrated after spending $961.23 fixing struts, shocks and replacing new tires after he hit a pothole on the same road.

“It’s like a minefield out there,” he said. “And they’re claiming they have no knowledge of them.”

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