Seems like last winter and spring I spent half my time dodging potholes. It got to the point that I developed a mental map of where the worst of them were on my daily route: the ones so big or so deep that they’d practically knock your teeth out and force you to shout slogans too explicit to repeat in a family newspaper … the ones you thought you knew where they were, but then — KA-BLAM!!! — they took you by surprise … the ones that would sometimes fill themselves up with water just to fool you, and then they’d practically swallow your whole tire so you’d have to pull over and make sure your relatively expensive alloy wheel hadn’t cracked … the ones you pretty much knew where they were, but you couldn’t see them at night, and then — WHOMPP!!!
And as bad as it was to hit one of these divots once, it was that much worse to hit the same one twice — like the bomb crater that was near the South Kensington firehouse on the Chamberlain Highway — because by then you should’ve known better.
(Years ago, a friend lost two tires to a giant pothole on I-84 in Hartford, and when he tried to get some compensation from the state, they told him sure — as long as he had previously filed an official complaint about the same pothole. In other words, drop dead.)
Yes, the worst of the chasms and frost heaves eventually got patched, with varying levels of success, and every town is doing its usual summer resurfacing projects, and even the state has been busy smoothing out some rough stretches of I-91, and wherever. But it’s fall now, and lots of roads still look like the Oregon Trail, so it’s pretty clear they’re not going to get any serious attention this year.
All of which is to say that it comes as little or no surprise that Connecticut’s roads — whether urban or rural, Interstates or two-lane blacktops — are not going to win any awards anytime soon. We’re not going home with any Transportation Oscars this year.
According to the AAA, we have the 14th worst rural roads in the nation. Fortunately for us, both Maine and New Hampshire rank even lower, and Rhode Island is worst of all, with 39 percent of its rural roads in “poor” condition. When it comes to major roads in poor condition, the stretch from Bridgeport to Stamford comes in at 15th worst in the nation — but, again, Providence ranks lower, at 9th worst. This is based on analysis provided by the Federal Highway Administration.
An insurance-industry study by Insurify says our rural roads are the 49th worst in the country — with 39 percent of them “poor” — but Rhode Island once again comes in last, at 41 percent.
Conclusion: We’re bad, but Rhode Island is worse.
Fortunately, I was able to find another insurance-industry website, one that ranks drivers instead of roads, and this time we aced it. It was close, but EverQuote ranked Connecticut drivers as the worst in the country, in terms of speeding, distracted driving, hard braking and the like. By a hair, we beat out (you guessed it) Rhode Island.
So take that, Ocean State!
Reach Glenn Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org.