Recently we’ve seen many tributes to the American feat of 50 years ago, the first moon landing. It was a great historical moment, one rightly celebrated.

Even among the top pilots who were astronauts, Neil Armstrong showed extraordinary skill in landing the lunar module. Coming out of orbit “long” he was going to miss the planned landing spot. He navigated over rough terrain to find a safe, smooth landing spot, pulling it off with only seconds of fuel left.

Were he driving some of Portland’s streets today, he would face the same dilemma. Months after winter ended, places on our city’s paved streets bear potholes and worse, which make the dangerous terrain Armstrong avoided look smooth and gentle by comparison.

Cones mark holes in the middle of the traveled way, as customary on logging roads. Trench plates without the associated construction. New construction with raised manholes waiting to grab and rip oil pans. Longitudinal seams in the asphalt reminiscent of Apollo 15’s Hadley Rille. The Forest Avenue sewer project.

Repair work? A close analog to the moon’s eternal, silent vacuum: nothing going on.

Addressing in detail the city’s anticipated excuses would run afoul of your paper’s 300-word limit. In short, there are no valid excuses. Ignorance of the problems’ locations is no excuse. The city found money and energy to accommodate unexpected guests. Potholes come annually; no money means bad budgeting.

Surely the people who fix front ends, alignments and bent rims rejoice in this state of affairs. The rest of us merely grit our teeth, hope this latest impact will not be the one that breaks our vehicles and considering ourselves to be, in our own way, intrepid pilots like Armstrong.

David Sokasits


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