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Owning the road

March 3, 2010

Somewhere in the town of Niederzimmern, there's a pothole with your name on it - for a fee. The rocky road ruts are better known for busting car axles and aggravating drivers, but the town sees them as revenue sources.

A car passes a giant road pothole
Now drivers can own the road - or at least a piece of it outside of ErfurtImage: picture-alliance/ ZB

Niederzimmern, which lies about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) outside Erfurt in eastern Germany, is putting about 40 of its potholes up for sale to raise money for road repairs. In return for the 50 euro ($68) purchase price, the crater will be paved over and painted with the buyer's name and a message of their choice.

Potential buyers can even view some of the holes on offer at the town website.

Mayor Christoph Schmidt-Rose told local radio station MDR Info that a newspaper and another broadcaster had already adopted potholes to use for advertising messages.

"People find it funny that they're able to help us get our roads in order," Schmidt-Rose said. "They feel a sense of ownership over the potholes."

The idea could catch on. A rougher-than-usual winter has left between 30 and 40 percent of German's roads with severe damage, according to German technical testing company TUV Rhineland. Many municipalities are struggling to find the funds to make repairs in a tough economic climate.

Editor: Michael Lawton