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Lincoln Park potholes rough up cars, pocketbooks

DCN Correspondent

Cars bumping loudly over pockmarked, crumbling roads has become a familiar scene in Duluth. Perhaps no one has a better perspective on this situation than those who see the direct effects such roads can have on vehicles: Local mechanics.

Chad Alaspa is the owner of Chad’s Auto Shop at the intersection of W. Third Street and N. 28th Ave. W. in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Duluth. He said that a lot of customers come into his shop with damages caused by Duluth’s ailing infrastructure.

“Customers complain, people hate the streets in this town,? he said.

Alaspa does admit that, for him, the poor roads are a mixed blessing.

“I look at a hole [in the road] and say, ‘that’ll make me a lot,’? he said laughing while shifting in his chair.

According to Alaspa, before the recent replacement of W. Third Street, there was a pothole in front of his shop that would literally tear cars apart, snapping ball joints and ruining tires.

“I got three jobs off that one,? he said. “People would come in and ask me, ‘did you put that [pothole] there?’?

Even though W. Third has since been repaired, Alaspa said that there are still plenty of other roads messing with motorists. He gave E. Superior and 27th Ave. E. as an example. Despite the business that he gets as a result of bad roads, he would like to see the city fix them. He expressed frustration over city funds used to operate things like the Great Lakes Aquarium. The aquarium’s accounting office said the city contributes $300,000 a year to its operation. According to an expense budget report on Duluth’s 2008 road repair, that’s about the same amount of money that the city has spent on blacktop this year, and totals nearly one third of the city’s total 2008 road budget to date. Alaspa would like to see that money invested in the city’s infrastructure.

With the serious budget situation that Duluth is experiencing, the city is considering cutting funds to the Great Lakes Aquarium in order to better afford things such as road repair. They will need all the money they can get. Darlene Campbell, a Lincoln Park resident, said that oftentimes the temporary repairs on the road in front of her house such as blacktop patches simply don’t hold up.

This may suggest that simply patching roads, as has been the most popular remedy due to lower cost, may not be enough. Duluth may need to scrape up the funds for a major revamping of its roads.

No matter what happens with the city’s budget, car owners can expect things to get worse before they get better, especially as winter sets in. Brian Fulda opened his own car repair shop about three weeks ago on the corner of Grand Avenue. and N. 34th St. W. He said that the poor roads have contributed to his steady business since opening. He expects his shop to get busier as the weather cools.

“Everything is made out of Aluminum now,? said Fulda. “If it’s cold, things are just going to snap.?