- Domino’s announced this week a "Paving for Pizza" program that will allow customers to nominate their city for pothole repairs, paid for by the company.
- Domino’s said in a press release it has already worked with four municipalities — Bartonville, TX; Milford, DE; Athens, GA and Burbank, CA — to help repair roads. Residents can apply for paving grants by entering their zip code online. If selected, the resident is notified, and the city receives the money to help make the repairs.
- "We don't want to lose any great-tasting pizza to a pothole, ruining a wonderful meal," Russell Weiner, president of Domino's USA, said in a statement. "Domino's cares too much about its customers and pizza to let that happen."
While this grant program is ostensibly a marketing ploy to give Domino’s customers peace of mind that their pizzas are not affected by damaged roads, it also represents the kind of public-private partnership (P3) that should make city leaders salivate. The program’s website indicates it has already done some good in the four starter communities, with 150 square yards of streets fixed in Athens, 40 potholes fixed in Milford, eight in Bartonville and five in Burbank.
P3s are critically important to elected officials and staffers at various levels of government, and have been used in areas including urban logistics and transportation, as well as for infrastructure fixes like filling in potholes or rebuilding bridges and tunnels. At the national level, President Trump had been bullish on the need for more private-sector investment to deal with the country’s infrastructure backlog, although he has walked those comments back. Meanwhile, various smart city challenges have emphasized the need to engage with the private sector on innovation.
Potholes create all manner of issues for city streets beyond simply causing a rough ride for pizza that is in transit, including damage to cars and creating unsafe environments for bicyclists. They may also be of concern as cities prepare their infrastructure for wider use of autonomous vehicles (AVs). While this partnership presents a handy branding and publicity opportunity, Domino’s could force more cities to look closely at the state of their streets and find innovative ways to fund repairs.