(WSPA) – If there is one thing that is universally acceptable to complain about, it’s the condition of our roads; and many would argue, with good reason.

However, it begs the question: what can we do to improve them?

Your voice can get traction if you know the best way to report issues.

In this 7NEWS Consumer Exclusive, we looked into how each of us can help turn road complaints into action.

Why are the roads so bad?

Drive from South Carolina to Arizona, and you’d be covering the same distance of roads that Greenville County maintains.  

It is the same story for Spartanburg County, between 1,700 and 1,800 miles.

When it comes to the distance of state roads in South Carolina, you could drive to California 16 times.

That’s why no matter how much the gas tax or property tax brings in, engineers have to pick and choose what they fix.  


Still, one thing road crews always tackle quickly is potholes.

“So, this was a major pothole as you can see, and it was like that,” Lee Harris, who lives on Sutton Road in Spartanburg County, said.

He sent in complaints about these potholes to the state.

When the trucks came through at a high rate of speed and the school buses, our house felt like it was shaking,” he said.

When the potholes weren’t fixed, he reached out to 7NEWS Here to Help. We learned his section of the road is local, so we contacted the county.

“And then it was funny, the very next day they were out here with a roller and fixed it,” he said.

Spartanburg County Councilman David Britt said crews will be out to fix potholes within 24 to 48 hours, and the same goes for Greenville and Anderson Counties.

How to report any road issue, including potholes

Who maintains the road?

What about the issue Harris ran into of trying to figure out who maintains the road?

For one, signage is on your side.  

State roads have a blue palmetto symbol and every road maintained by a county has its own, for instance, Spartanburg County has a red bird.

You can also check online sources like the state’s Roadway Information Street Finder.

What about stoplights?

Another problem we hear about is stoplights that are not timed well or ones that have broken.

It is the state, not the county, that maintains all stoplights outside city limits.  

Which streets get repaved?

As for road repaving, Hesha Gamble, with Greenville County’s Engineering and Public Works Department, said calls from residents get put into a database.

In addition to that, road condition reviews every four years help prioritize which roads are chosen.

“This is done by an independent firm, and it gets assigned a score of zero to 100, 100 being a newly paved road,” according to Gamble.  

That road review is set to happen again in a matter of weeks.

A large vehicle that takes images of the pavement will drive all the county roads to assess which ones need repaving the most.  

How do you stop speeding?

Speeding is a major concern for people like Harris who have children in the house.

“Cars are going through here in excessive speeds, probably 20-25 miles an hour over the speed limit,” Harris said.

Some counties, like Greenville and Anderson, will install speed humps, but with strict guidelines.

For instance, Greenville County’s rules that govern the installation of speed humps are extensive and can be found here.

They include:

  • road must be at least 1,000 feet long
  • road must be classified as residential
  • 85% of drivers must exceed the speed limit by 15 miles per hour
  • 75% of residents on the street must agree

In Anderson County, residents along the road must pay half the cost.  

Unfortunately for Harris, Spartanburg County no longer installs speed humps.  

Councilman Britt offers an explanation.

“Number one, reason we decided to drop them is because of safety, that ambulance trying to get to the scene of an accident,” according to Britt. “Number two, the damage it does to residents’ vehicles. Number three, the unintended consequence of causing neighbor against neighbor.”    

Nevertheless, Harris doesn’t mind being the squeaky wheel.  

He has taken videos of speeders and plans to advocate for more signage to warn drivers to slow down.    

“I think the message is, if you’ve got potholes or your roads coming apart, get on the county website, take some pictures…and send it in and stay after them,” Harris said.