When it comes to city roads, Lawton's are pretty notorious in the state of Oklahoma. While I wouldn't expect that we have the worst roads in the state, some of our main roads are as bad as the residential streets in places like Altus or Hollis. Even our politicians know how shameful it is to have let our infrastructure lapse to such a point in a town that could always afford the upkeep.

As new roads are still being promised by those who are in charge of spending that money, like anything any government is involved in, the end results come at the speed of smell, but there is a next best thing.

The City of Lawton put in place a little-known program called the Lawton iHelp Portal. It's a place where you can pinpoint the potholes you see on your commute and report it straight to the Lawton Street Division. Their goal is to fix these reported potholes within 72 hours of them being reported, but even they admit the limits of the program create challenges. Let me explain.

The biggest problem this program faces is a gigantic lack of exposure to the public. People simply just don't know about it. I've lived here for sixteen years and had no idea about it until Mayor Booker mentioned it the other day in casual conversation, and to be honest if more people knew about it and used the program, we might actually see some of that rare progress when it comes to the 2020 CIP spending on our promised new streets.

Here's how it works.

Over on the City of Lawton Street Division webpage, there's a link at the bottom of the page that will take you straight to the iHelp Portal.


Clicking that link will open the iHelp Portal to another page that starts the short and convenient reporting process... but I'd imagine most people ditch at this point thinking it requires signing up for yet another something or other... but you don't have to, there's a guest option.

City of Lawton/colgis.maps.arcgis.com
City of Lawton/colgis.maps.arcgis.com

Directly inside you'll be prompted with the usual government disclaimer that weekends and holidays aren't included in that 72 hour timespan and how emergencies should be reported to police if it's dire. Beyond that, you'll see this interactive map.

City of Lawotn/colgis.maps.arcgis.com
City of Lawotn/colgis.maps.arcgis.com

Just a quick map legend explaination... The red circles are issues that have been reported. The orange circles indicate a report has been received. Blue means it has been assigned to a road crew. Yellow means it's actively in progress & being repaired. Green means a reported road issue has been completed. Simple enough, right?

In talking with Melissa at the Lawton Streets & Traffic Division - AKA - THE person your road issue reporting goes to - she said that the issues that arrise from this fantastic technology is one nobody expected. As you fill out a report in the iHelp Portal, and you'll see this on your phone/pc/tablet, it'll ask to access your location. That's because it's trying to ping an exact location where the problem is.

So how does that create an issue?

People don't typically fill out pothole reports as they're driving down the road... they will normally do it when they get to where they're going. When the system pings the location to tie to the report, crews won't be able to find the issue a person is reporting.

So what's the easy solve? There's an option for explaining not only the location of the pothole you'd like to see get fixed, you can leave your contact information also so that Melissa can contact you with any questions they may have if they have trouble locating said trouble.

It really is a neat system. Moreso because it's not just limited to road issues... you can report city park and trash issues there also. You'll also see a tab for "Blight Issues." This is for reporting the tall grass or other (probable) code violations in your neigborhood.

If there's a pothole you'd like to report, like the one that's been on Eastbound Gore for six years some two-hundred feet east of 11th Street, here's the jumping off point that will get you there.

If you have questions about it, call Melissa at the City of Lawton Department of Street & Traffic Control. She's incredibly nice and the absolute authority on the Lawton iHelp reporting system. Tell he we said hello.

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