DEARBORN — While efforts have gone underway to repair roads across the city, the same cannot be said about the alleys behind businesses and alongside residential streets.
An alley in east Dearborn with visible trash and potholes.
Over the years, alleys in several neighborhoods have slowly deteriorated due to little to no maintenance being done to the pavement. Potholes, cracks and rusty sewers have turned these alleys into eyesores.
One of the worst in the city includes the alley that runs behind Greenfield for about a mile between Warren Ave. and Donald Ave. Several prominent businesses are located in front of these alleys, including Rams Horn, a BP Gas Station and Dollar Deluxe.
While alleys are supposed to be used as a pathway for trash pick up, any motorist driving through them would need to navigate slowly as the unstable pavement conditions could cause severe damage to a vehicle.
An alley runs behind the property of one resident who said the city should invest more in repairing them. He pointed out that many residents have to use the alleys behind their homes in order to drive their cars into or out of their garages.
"I understand that these alleys are mainly used for garbage trucks, but some people still have to drive through them every day," said the homeowner, who wished to remain anonymous. "Every year it's just getting worse, especially with the last few winters we've had."
According to the Department of Public Information, repairing these alleys is not on the high end of Dearborn’s priorities. The city maintains that any available funding provided by the state is immediately used to repair roads, which is viewed as a higher priority.
"Unfortunately, because Michigan has an inadequate way of funding roads, the city is not able to address all of the repair and replacements of roads in Dearborn," said Mary Laundroche, the director of Public Information.
Laundroche added that the city will occasionally patch up potholes and do basic maintenance in the alleys when there are resources available, but said Dearborn is "not in a position to repave the alleys."
Ali Harb, a reporter at The Arab American News, lives in east Dearborn off of Schaefer Rd. The only available access a vehicle has to his apartment is by driving through the alley to reach the parking lot allocated to the building.
Harb said the conditions in the alley have caused problems for his car and made it a strenuous process for his house guests as well.
“Sometimes when I’m driving and I hit the pothole, I feel like I’m going to emerge from the other end of earth,” Harb said, describing the severity of the potholes. “Visitors park in the law office next to my house because they don’t want to deal with the nonsense in the alley.”
Harb said he woke up one morning last month to discover that he had a flat tire on a used car he had just purchased from a dealer. He attributes the flat to the rough conditions in his alley.
On top of the pavement conditions, Harb noted that the alleys in Dearborn have also accumulated a lot of trash. He also said that motorists are parking cars on the side of the alley, making it difficult to view the cross roads when he wants to exit.
“When a car is parked at the edge, you can’t see who is driving off of Schaefer,” Harb said. “Whenever I cross and turn its like playing Russian Roulette, because I can’t see if a car is coming or not. I don’t know if there is an ordinance about parking at the edge of the alley, but if there is, it needs to be enforced.”
According to Laundroche, business owners do have an option to petition the city for the creation of a Special Assessment District (SAD). Doing so could provide dedicated funding for a specific alley and each business adjacent to that alley would pay a fee for its maintenance.
One alley that will be renovated is the one behind the Arab American National Museum off of Michigan Ave.
According to the city, The East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority (EDDDA) will pay for the cleanup and repairs to the alley in the coming weeks.
Business owners or residents concerned about the conditions of a particular alley can call the city’s Public Service Division at 313.943.2107. The city said it would be willing to fill in potholes, if feasible.