Rough winter brings potholes ‘worse than normal’ to Miami Valley

  • Bonnie Meibers
  • Staff Writer
7:11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 Local
Local officials say potholes are worse this year than the past two winters. A Dayton crew patches a pothole on Gettysburg Ave. MARSHALL GORBY

The worst winter weather in recent years also has spawned the worst potholes on area roads in some time.

“Some counties are saying the potholes are worse this year,” said Ohio Department of Transportation public information officer Mandi Dillon in a statement.

Fred Stovall, director of Dayton public works, said there are more potholes than the past two winters. Those previous winters were milder and resulted in much fewer potholes, he said.

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“We’ve seen colder temperatures, freezing temperatures, snow and salt in the street. That all gets in the cracks and makes (conditions for potholes) worse,” Stovall said.

Potholes cost American drivers about $3 billion a year in vehicle repairs, or $15 billion over the last five years, a AAA study revealed, according to AAA spokeswoman Kara Hitchens.

The cost to repair a vehicle can vary because of tire size and the extent of the damage. Jason Brown, store manager at AAA Auto and Tire store in Huber Heights, said replacing a tire can cost anywhere from $80 to $250. And replacing an entire wheel can cost more than $200.

“Today alone, I’ve seen five people come in with damage from potholes,” Brown said. “They’re everywhere.”

Riverside City Manager Mark Carpenter said his city has also seen an increase in potholes this winter.

“The potholes are worse than normal, over the top this year,” he said.

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Potholes form when water soaks into the pavement, then freezes and expands as temperatures change, according to ODOT press secretary Matt Bruning.

Bruning said ODOT has spent $726,000 on patching potholes statewide so far this year, most of it in recent days. The vast majority of that number is labor costs.

“This season ODOT crews have spent 21,669 hours— the equivalent of two and a half years— just patching potholes,” Bruning said.

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ODOT already this year has used the second highest amount of salt that it has used in the past 10 years, Bruning said. This is usually an indication of how bad the winter is, Bruning said.

“Kudos to our men and women on the roads. They are definitely earning that money they make,” Bruning said of the ODOT crews patching potholes and clearing snow and ice this season.

Local crews are also working every day to patch potholes. Stovall said that the city has 48 hours or two business days, not including weekends, to patch potholes after they are reported.

“This is certainly filling our time. And we haven’t even gotten to the residential streets yet,” Riverside’s Carpenter said.

Carpenter said the city appreciates citizens calling and alerting the service department to potholes in the area.

Stovall agreed, urging Daytonians to call (937) 333-4800 or use Dayton’s smartphone app to report potholes.

Drivers can report potholes to ODOT via an online form or if the pothole needs immediate attention, by alerting the highway patrol.

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Bruning also stressed that ODOT crews prioritize potholes in high traffic areas, like interstate 75 over residential roads.

“Just like when we’re clearing snow and ice, we try and make sure the main roadways get taken care of first, and I think most folks understand that,” Bruning said.