Potholes – they turn our streets into minefields during the winter and spring months. They cause accidents, damage to cars, and are a safety risk to both pedestrians and bicyclists. You can report pothole issues to the City of Pittsburgh's 311 Response Center, but what happens after you file the complaint?
According to an analysis of 25,000 pothole complaints between 2006 and 2012, the amount of time it takes to resolve a complaint is increasing. In 2009 it took about five days to repair a pothole. The following year that number doubled to 10 days. In 2011 and 2012, repair time increased to three weeks.
The city said it will not do its own analysis, but an official stated that different conditions, like narrow streets and weather, can slow response time. The city said its goal is to resolve all complaints within four days.
Experts say that potholes should be repaired within days, and that once a large number of potholes emerges, the street needs to be resurfaced. Once water gets under the pothole, it threatens the integrity of the street, leading to dangerous road conditions. City officials admit that they are behind schedule on resurfacing – instead of completing 100 miles a year, budget constraints only allow for 30 to 40 miles a year.
Budgetary concerns have also affected how roads are repaired. Standard practice used to be to remove three to five inches of asphalt, but to save money, the city now removes only one inch. This means that dangerous conditions, like potholes, will reappear.
Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 pothole complaints are called in annually. Experts say that in addition to potholes, Pittsburgh's 1,000 miles of streets are already compromised because of the city's age, weather, topography, and budget.