Part 2: "Gulf Coast Roads"-The Hunt for Potholes - - The News for South Mississippi

Part 2: "Gulf Coast Roads"-The Hunt for Potholes


Have you ever hit a pothole on an Mississippi interstate? The usual high rate of speed can not-only cause damage, but danger.

Ocean Springs resident Doug Heller damaged his vehicle going over a pothole.

In September of 2010, Doug and Diana Heller were on their way home to Ocean Springs from a reptile festival in Baton Rouge where they bought their beloved Bearded Dragon "Puff".

Heller said, "On the way back we were headed east on I-10, it was the evening, dark out and we got about a mile or two past the Diamondhead exit and we hit a tremendous pot hole! After about four or five miles, we started hearing noises and I found out later it was little pieces of tire hitting the frame of the car."

So he and his wife Diana sat on the side of the busy interstate in the dark, waiting for help.

He said, "It was the evening and it was chilly and my wife's in a wheelchair and we sat along the side of the road for a half an hour waiting for roadside assistance and a friend from Ocean Springs to come pick us up and that in itself was a safety hazard."

Not to mention he says the danger of two blow outs at a high rate of speed.

Heller went on to say, "It was definitely a safety hazard, the other thing you could see lots of tire tread in that area, so I was not the only one that had tire problems. I'm just glad nothing, nothing worse happened."

The next day, he went back to the scene with a camera and a ruler to document what he calls, a stretch of "massive" potholes that had been "patched up" countless times.

"There were numerous patches. They had worked on this pothole many times. They were probably 30 or 40 feet long and some of the holes were over six inches deep," he said.

And when he found out it would cost $985 to replace two brand new tires, he took action.

"I sent the pictures and a nice little letter to MDOT and I told them all I wanted was the money for the tires. I wasn't going to push my luck. I wasn't going to mess with problems with the car. I just wanted my money back for the tires," he said.

And he was pleasantly surprised at their reply. A check was immediately sent to him.

"I believe it was about three weeks and I was very happy and I was pleased to see that they did the right thing," he added.

We asked MDOT about their rules on reimbursement for damages they said:

"The State evaluates all reported claims of damage related to potholes on state highways on a case-by-case basis using state statutes. Several criteria have to be considered when determining whether to settle or reject claims. Key considerations may include, prior State knowledge of the existence of the pothole, location of the hazard, and/or the opportunity to correct or warn. Not all claims are reimbursable."

After the Hellers' ordeal, they did fix that long stretch of potholes. But he wonders why they spent so much on patchwork instead of fixing them right, the first time.

Doug Heller said, "Oh absolutely, yeah, that's what they should have done. There's no question about it."

Here's what you should do if you get in an accident or have damage to your vehicle because of a faulty interstate roadway.

• Submit a written statement and/or notice of claim to the Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Mail to:

MS Department of Transportation

401 North West Street

Jackson, MS 39201

• The notice may be delivered in person or by registered or certified United States mail

• The notice must include a short, plain statement of the facts upon which the claim is based

• The statement must also include the time and place the damage occurred, the extent of the damage, the names of all persons involved, the amount of money damages sought, and the residence of the person making the claim and all claims must be filed within one (1) year of the incident to be considered.

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