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Searching For The Worst Stretch Of Road In America


Volvo S60 R-design

Volvo S60 R-design

Bedeviled by potholes the size of trashcans that somehow just haven’t been repaired along your daily drive? Who among us hasn’t cringed after hitting that dip or upheaved pavement that wasn’t there before yesterday’s rains or appeared after the winter thaw?

Maybe it’s just a stretch of really badly maintained pavement (or a sorry excuse of what used to be pavement) that you have to contend with – or come across.

2011 Ford Explorer

2011 Ford Explorer

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If you have a candidate for the worst stretch of road in America, Popular Mechanics wants to hear from you. Specifically, they’re asking you to submit your worst local road to the magazine via email at pmwebmaster [at] hearst (dot) com.

There are, of course, a few stipulations. Along with your name, email and contact information, you need to submit a few photos or video – to show just how bad the road is, location information (GPS coordinates or mile-marker designation for the worst one-mile stretch), and a brief description of the road’s condition.

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

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Furthermore, the roads have to be state-level or above (no private roads), paved, and located within the U.S. borders, and neglected for several months (in other words, no attempt has been made to repair the road).

Once the magazine accumulates what they term “critical mass” of submissions, they’ll narrow the field down to the top five. That’s when it gets exciting, that is, if you’re the test driver in a specially-modified Popular Mechanics car – that means they’ve got some pretty sophisticated equipment bolted onto their road test car and they’re going to physically drive over and inspect those top five worst stretches of road.

Number-crunching will be done with National Instruments, which the magazine has teamed up with (National Instruments created the “customized data logger with a multiaxis accelerometer” that will be used to measure the roads’ conditions).

Popular Mechanics promises to publish the results in a future issue. What’s in it for you? Nope, there’s no cash money or any prize to speak of. But if you want to draw national attention to a really pathetic one-mile stretch of road that really grinds you, here’s your chance.

2011 BMW 3-Series Coupe

2011 BMW 3-Series Coupe

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Let’s see. There must be literally thousands of prime candidate road stretches just waiting along your daily commute. Maybe near San Francisco or Los Angeles, a nasty stretch on the Washington Beltway or somewhere in the Atlanta area, Texas Panhandle or Tamiami Trail. Too bad this “contest” wasn’t around back in the day when this reporter had to play dodge-em on various stretches of freeway in and around Chicago or similar patches in the suburban Detroit area. Interestingly, some of those same stretches remain in perennial disrepair today (despite intermittent attempts to fix them). Go figure.

FamilyCarGuide can’t wait to see what you all come up with – and we’ll certainly keep you informed when the results are in.

In somewhat the same vein, you might want to check out FamilyCarGuide’s earlier story “Tale of 10 Cities: Worst Traffic Congestion in U.S.” Might just jog your memory. Then again, maybe you don’t need any help to remember those pitiful road stretches.

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[Popular Mechanics]

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