The City of San Diego had been warned numerous times about potholes and dangerous road conditions on Harbor Drive near the Naval shipyard. Those complaints specifically stated the potholes and depressions in the street were especially dangerous for cyclists and motorcyclists.
On March 14, 2014 their fears came true when 23-year-old Navy sailor Jamie Scott Powell was driving his motorcycle back to the Naval shipyard on Harbor Drive near the intersection with 28th Street and hit a road depression near the railroad tracks. The impact ejected Powell from his motorcycle. He flew into oncoming traffic and was struck by an oncoming SUV. He was pronounced dead upon arriving at the hospital.
Powell's family later sued the city. The civil trial is set to begin on July 24.
Attorneys for the city will spend much of the trial addressing the numerous complaints it received about that specific stretch of the road.
In documents I was able to obtain there are citizen complaints which date back to 2006. Many of the complaints mention the danger for cyclists and motorcyclists.
"I can’t believe how terribly uneven the street is, bumps, cracks, splits on Harbor Drive going east ... so many motorcycle[s] drive this route that someone could get hurt. Any new biker rider [sic] could just spin out and hurt themselves. Road needs to be evened out," wrote resident Marie Daugherty on February 13, 2009.
On September 21, 2011 another resident suggested scraping up or "repaving whole section, [it's] a safety hazard to cyclists and motorcyclists especially...One of the worst."
After one such complaint, a city staffer informed the resident that funding for street repairs along Harbor Drive was on backlog.
"This street section has been evaluated and added to our unfunded concrete street reconstruction list where similar projects compete for funding based on need," wrote city public works staffer, John Scampone in January 2012.
In its defense, the city says Powell was speeding when he lost control of his motorcycle. In addition, according to a court document filed by the city, public works employees had repaired several potholes at that location.
"Prior to decedent's accident, the city received complaints about potholes [at that location]," reads the trial brief. "The city promptly patched these potholes...the accident site was last inspected prior to decedent's accident on August 23, 2013 and no potholes were found at that time."
But according to that inspection report, while the worker was unable to locate any potholes he did found the stretch of road to be "a bumpy ride."
In addition, according to other documents filed by Powell's attorneys, new potholes had appeared at the time of Powell's death.
"[I]n March 2014 there were four potholes in Lane No. 1 of the approach where portions of the asphalt [near the railroad tracks] had popped completely off of the underlying concrete. There were also three asphalt cracks in Lane No. 1 of the approach: one in the center lane; one bisecting the lane; and one running parallel to the tracks."