Westchester pothole experts from Public Works and Highway Departments throughout the region agree this year’s mild winter has meant a mild pothole season. This is not a benefit to those who hit a pothole damaging their tire and sometimes the rim. The destructive road craters form when moisture gets into the cracks in the roadway and freezes and expands in cold temperatures which weaken the road. When temperatures rise (Spring weather) the water melts and leave cracks and gaps that enlarge into potholes by cars and trucks going over the weak spot.
According to an article on March 2, 2017 by Matt Coyne in the Putnam-Northern Westchester Express of The Journal News reports of potholes are entered into a database in New Rochelle. A supervisor is dispatched to determine how severe the pothole is which helps DPW prioritize repairs. New Rochelle’s Department of Public Works has two crews out filling potholes averaging 20 – 25 repairs a day. In 2016, they filled 230 potholes. This year there have been 100 pothole repairs.
The Westchester County’s Commissioner of Public Works and Transportation, Vincent Kopicke deals with potholes from March through May. Priorities are given to the parkways and portions of Central Avenue, than smaller less traveled roads. Public Work crews who are out on other assignments will fill potholes. Westchester County allocates $300,000 this year for repairs. During the winter when most asphalt plants are closed, the potholes are filled with “cold patch” a temporary fix that fills the potholes with premixed asphalts and tampering it down. When the weather gets warmer, crews have to return to make permanent “hot patch” fills.
Mount Vernon’s Mayor, Richard Thomas said Mount Vernon filled 30,000 potholes last year and has repaired 1,000 so far in 2017. The street repair budget in Mount Vernon was increased by $10,000 to $50,000 in 2017. Most complaints are called in and it’s becoming more common for reports to be received by Facebook or other social media outlets.
According to the article, hitting potholes can be very expensive. Replacing a tire can cost up to $400. When a car hits a pothole, the tire pinches against the rim causing a blister on the sidewall or a blowout. High end cars with low profile tires that have thinner sidewalls are more susceptible to damage. If these cars hit the pothole, they can damage a rim which costs more than the tire.
The State Department of Transportation fills potholes with cold patch. Residents call 1-800 POTHOLE to report them. Maintenance crews make daily schedules to fix the holes. It is also noted that if the municipality repairs the roadway, less pot holes occur for a while. Repaving covers all cracks that are needed to make a pothole. Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner said the Town spent $5 million on road repaving and he states he is not getting as many pothole complaints.
Yonkers, according to Christine Gilmartin, the City prioritizes pothole repairs by the order in which they are reported and the severity of the problem. Yonkers uses cold patch but the City is looking into purchasing a new piece of equipment which actually uses infrared to heat up the asphalt area of the pot hole.
White Plains Public Works Commissioner, Rick Hope said the City spends about $70,000 plus labor on pothole repairs using 3.5 tons of blacktop on 150 miles of roadways. White Plains finalizes its Spring and Summer repaving in the late Winter which saves the Department of Public Works from going back to the same area over and over again.
An issue arises when the municipality waits to fill the potholes and your vehicle is damaged. All municipalities must have received a “prior written notice” filed with the municipality telling the date, time and place of the pothole before they can become liable to the car’s owner. Just because the municipality knows of the potholes, does not make then liable for damages. They must have a prior written notice which does not happen in 90% of the potholes. The law is in flux if the municipality got a social media report of a potholes. Most municipalities will not pay for damage with social media notice of a pothole.