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The Politics of Potholes While the Blizzard of ’96 may have sent suburbanites scurrying to the nearest Ford dealership to swap their old sedans for four-wheel drives, many D.C. residents made the trade years ago in order to navigate the District’s treacherous streets. Potholes are such a universal gripe of Washingtonians that early in his “redemption” term, Marion Barry pledged that the city would repair all potholes within 24 hours of a complaint. (The pothole promise rivals in mendacity Barry’s recent assertion that 90 percent of city streets were plowed during the storm.) Now that the snow has melted, potholes may resurface as residents’ No. 1 beef with the city. D.C.’s pothole population has multiplied during the past few weeks of wet weather and gnarled rush-hour traffic. In a brilliant offensive move, the Department of Public Works (DPW) issued a Jan. 18 statement blaming the storm for D.C.’s perennial potholes. “Potholes are to be expected after
increment [sic] weather,” it states. “The District’s problems are no different than those in other cities.” Barry is asking the federal government for emergency pothole repair assistance, but citizens with complaints can still try their luck with the DPW pothole hotline at (202) 645-7055.CP