The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Manhattan road conditions strain students’ wallets and heighten safety concerns

Some students feel they should be compensated for car damages
Avery Johnson
One of the areas affected by potholes in Manhattan is Sunset Avenue. The City of Manhattan is not compensating students for the damage caused by the potholes.

With potholes littering nearly every street she drives, Kansas State student Kayla Peters struggles to avoid them. Eventually she hit a pothole, causing around $300 in damages.

K-State has a large population of commuting students, and the state of Manhattan roads creates inconveniences and financial burdens for those who can barely afford car maintenance.

The problem centers around the main roads leading to and from K-State’s campus. City Engineer Brian Johnson said potholes are a “recurring problem” because of weather, traffic and volume. 

“Potholes are kind of a never-ending process,” Johnson said. “We will be doing quite a bit of street repair that summer. As soon as K-State gets out of school, we typically try to do our asphalt work through the summer while traffic volumes are down. Come May 13, we’re getting geared up to do quite a bit of asphalt work this summer.”

Students, many of whom rely on their vehicles to commute to classes and part-time jobs, face unexpected and often costly car repairs. The financial strain is particularly harsh on students struggling with tuition and living expenses.

Local mechanic shops witness the impact of poor road conditions on vehicles. Although benefiting from the increased workload, workers expressed concern over the recurring nature of such repairs and the strain it puts on their regular customers. 

Ray Sanders, a mechanic at Ekart Automotive, said cars that suffered from previous damages or “something loose on it” are more likely to take further damage from potholes.

“Some people’s cars, if they have a loose front end, a flimsy bumper or previous car issues, those potholes will finish them off,” Sanders said. “We’ve seen a lot of people with ball joints coming unhooked, so their whole wheel just comes unhooked, which is something extremely dangerous and hazardous to not only the driver but also those around them.” 

According to MOOG, an industry-leading brand of premium replacement steering, suspension, wheel end and driveline products, a loose ball joint can increase the chances of crashing, as it can seriously affect the car’s steering and suspension.

Sanders said damages can set someone back anywhere from $700 to $1,000.

Andrew Moeller, captain of the K-State Police Department, said there are concerns about potential safety hazards because of poor road conditions.

“Road construction detours often force more vehicles into thoroughfares than what was originally intended,” Moeller said. “This in turn causes delays, frustration for drivers and drivers are more likely to drive unsafely. It’s important for drivers to allow themselves enough extra time to arrive at their destination during times of construction along your regularly traveled roadways.” 

Paige Vulgamore, student body president, said students can reach out to the Student Governing Association to discuss the road conditions

“I am aware that many students are concerned about the potholes and poor road conditions surrounding campus,” Vulgamore said. “Many students commute by car to campus every day, and the potholes are causing significant wear and tear on their vehicles. The poor road conditions also are a safety concern for students that commute by motorcycle, moped, bicycle, etc.”

Peters said the front bumper of her car came off after colliding with a pothole while driving near campus.

“Even if you’re going the speed limit it’s hard to avoid them,” Peters said. “As a college student, it’s already hard to afford living and when you damage your car around campus like me and have no choice but to fix it, it makes things a lot harder when it had to come out of my pocket to pay for it.”

Johnson said students can file a claim through campus court law.

“Those claims are typically denied because there has to be a pre-known issue, where there has to be negligence on the city’s part, but there is a process that you can go through to fill out a claim,” Johnson said.

Vulgamore said student leaders in SGA constantly maintain communication with administration.

“We also have an external relations director in the executive branch who sits in various external committees that engage with the city, including MHK-KSU Town Gown Committee, City Commission and Manhattan Chamber of Commerce,” Vulgamore said. “While this director was just sworn in yesterday, I anticipate her involvement in these conversations in the future.”

City officials also work with local construction companies to address reported damages through “Report It!,” an online non-emergent submission site. 

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About the Contributor
Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson, multimedia editor
Multimedia editor for 2023-24. Previously photographer for spring 2023.
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