Thursday, April 21, 2011


After a long, wet winter potholes are normal -- at least a few here and there, scattered along a stretch of road that is recovering from the freeze and thaw combined with the pressure of traffic. But Georgia's potholes take the severity to a whole new level.

I've written a few times about the deplorable state of Shamgona's road. The Russian tanks tore it up years ago during the conflict years, and it has been neglected and left to deteriorate ever since. In a tiny village, such a bad road is understandable, even excusable. But in Batumi?

This major crossroad is not one of the worst in the city....
Batumi is the second largest city in Georgia. (Some friends and I are spending our spring break here.) It is the city that is growing the most rapidly and evolving the most drastically. Construction is present everywhere  -- evidence that improvement, opportunity, and progress are on the rise. And it looks that way, too -- modern, stylish, new buildings, hotels, casinos, high rises -- it looks like progress is afoot as long as you don't pay any attention to what is UNDERfoot. The roads in this city are as bad as the roads in my village.

That's bad.

While walking around the city this afternoon and evening, James and I tried to make sense of the horrendously rutted, potholed, puddled, dug-up, rock-strewn, crater-riddled streets. This condition would be understandable if it afflicted only one or two out-lying streets. But, no, the majority of the city looks like these photos. Whether the budget has not covered road-repair for years or the construction vehicles constantly tear them up or a city-wide drainage/water supply problem is being resolved, I can't tell. What I do know is that for THE tourist destination of the country, the road condition is not inviting nor welcoming.

Doesn't look like much of a tourist-destination, does it?
Can't life a bit like this?

Bumps throw us off-track. Rocky sections take their toll on our nerves. Puddles splash muck all over whoever may get too close. Holes jar us from the very depths of our beings. Ruts keep us heading in one particular direction.... whether or not we mean to go that way. Dug-up sections impede our progress. Rough sections slow us down. So what's the best thing to do when you're stuck on a road like this?

Park the car, get out, and walk.


  1. I was there last January and roads were in the same condition. Roads looked really bad even by Georgian standards, so I suspected the local government was doing something. They were laying new pipelines to replace old (try 50-60 years old) Soviet pipelines which would improve water pressure and supply. Anyways, the government decided instead of laying pipelines sector by sector, just to dig up the entire city, finish the work, and then worry about the surface. I guess it's still not finished.

    Oh, and I would not really care but I got to defend my home town: Kutaisi is the second largest city. Batumi would be third largest :)

  2. Giorgi,

    You know, I wondered if Kutaisi was the second-largest! Thanks for the correction!

    I was here in January, too, and the roads are still in the same condition! The owner of the guesthouse where I am staying said that it's been this way for six months so far -- but when it is all finished, the water supply will be much better and the roads will all be new. Good things are coming!