Home Editorials Ignoring road repairs in predominately Black communities

Ignoring road repairs in predominately Black communities

by William T. Robinson, Jr
William T. Robinson, Jr.

How many times have you heard African Americans complaining about the poor condition of roads and streets in their neighborhoods compared to the preferential treatment predominantly White neighborhoods appear to receive? It is not a figment of one’s imagination but a reality that continues to be a concerning problem.

If the state or city had to pay for every car that has been damaged (especially tire damage and front-end alignments), they would get a hefty bill for these cars. We have massive road repairs that quite evidently require immediate attention. Pot holes should be treated immediately, especially in high density traffic areas.

A pending argument is that Black people pay taxes just like their White counterparts, but their cries for road repairs in their neighborhoods seem to be ignored. Our roads take a back seat. While many of the residents in Tennessee’s Black communities claim they report their concerns to council members or to TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation), the road hazards in the form of pot holes don’t seem to be a priority. They often take weeks, sometimes months to fix—if they’re ever fixed at all. By then, extensive unnecessary damage is done to many of the cars in that particular neighborhood.

The cry is ‘who do you hold accountable?’ Is it one’s council member, perhaps TDOT? Maybe it’s the residents in the community for not being vociferous enough. Maybe businesses are to blame that allow paths to their businesses to be riddled with potholes, violating the safety of their potential customers. There is enough blame to go around, but common sense dictates that potholes jeopardizing the safety of drivers, regardless of the neighborhood, should get immediate attention.

In some affluent areas, all that is needed to rectify a hazardous road condition is a phone call. One would assume that when you elect officials to represent your community, they should be the ones to weigh in on your behalf. Your welfare should be their primary duty. Think about that when you consider candidates that are best qualified to represent you. You don’t need someone who makes excuses and passes the buck, but someone who can do whatever is necessary to resolve your road problems expeditiously.

We must also advocate that our city and state exercise fair operating procedures in making sure all communities are treated equally, regardless of one’s zip code. The special treatment given to opulent, upper-class, dominate White communities is obvious and a slap in the face to taxpaying residents in economically disadvantaged communities that are too often overlooked or ignored. Even when the proper authorities are contacted concerning certain communities, many times excuses are made and a significant time lapse exists before the problems concerning hazardous road conditions are resolved.

Such is the case on Clarksville Highway, a predominately Black community (Bordeaux) which is undergoing road construction to widen the road. Many residents’ cars have been damaged by potholes going untreated for a significant amount of time on the Clarksville Highway. This is unacceptable because we all know this would not have happened in other parts of Nashville such as Brentwood, Green Hills, or Belle Meade.

Inconveniencing or ignoring certain communities while prioritizing others is wrong and should be looked into. Unfortunately, Bordeaux in Northwest Nashville has historically been a dumping ground for projects rejected by other communities. It has been often overlooked and open to blatant disrespect and underdevelopment.

Many claim the fault for problems plaguing Black communities (i.e., road hazards) falls primarily on poor representation by elected officials in those communities. If that is the case, Bordeaux and other communities should be more diligent in the people they elect to public office.

In all fairness to the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee, there is an emergency (TDOT} hotline number you can call as well as online forms for reporting pot holes and other road hazards. You can even file a car damage claim which is investigated on a car-to-car basis. If this is the case, why does treating road hazards continue to remain a problem in so many communities?

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