Alleyway to get to my apt, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from rebeccaselah’s photostream

Crumbling streets and potholes are some of the most common problems reported to us by residents of our neighborhood. A professional paving management system that uses data – not politics – to prioritize which streets should be paved would vastly improve the quality of our streets. For too long personal connections and political affiliations have determined whose streets get paved and whose potholes get patched. It’s time to base these decisions on hard data that is available to the public.

1. Comprehensive Street Rating System

The first step in developing an equitable, professional system of street paving is to create metrics to rate every street in the city and to make this information publicly available. Most major cities already use these systems to plan their street paving operations – it’s time that Pittsburgh joins the fold.

Streets should be rated both on their condition and on their importance for moving traffic through critical corridors in the city, and a prioritization list for maintenance and repairs should be generated each year based on these metrics. Once we start to track the condition of our streets more closely, using real data, we can shift our focus to maintenance instead of always having to play catch up just to make streets passable. With a consistent, professional maintenance plan we can keep the vast majority of our streets in good condition all the time.

2. Paving for the People

My Department of Public Works will provide a list and map of all streets to be paved and will keep the public notified of the changes in real time. I will make sure that we coordinate with our utility providers so that we don’t do the same work twice. In addition, I will create a pothole-filling system that responds in real time to the needs of Pittsburghers. Following the examples of many other cities across the country, I will keep an interactive map that lets the public report potholes and track the progress in filling them.

Keeping our streets in good condition isn’t rocket science. We can do this with a little bit of modern technology and a solid plan. It’s time to change. Let’s get started!