Crews scramble to fix potholes in Washington

February 20, 2014
Nearly every street in the area has potholes, and with the recent melting of snow the holes are filled with water. Motorists, like this one on Hallam Avenue in Washington Thursday, can be fooled into thinking the deep holes are just puddles. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The city of Washington’s road crew is trading in its snow plows for cold patches.

This week’s warmer temperatures allowed the city to launch a pothole paving “blitz” after receiving a string of complaints from residents about the condition of the streets.

Washington Mayor Brenda Davis understands the complaints, but asked for patience as crews try to fix many of the city’s roads that are riddled with potholes from the frigid winter.

“It’s unfortunate,” Davis said. “It just seems like the potholes, with the weather we’ve had, are tremendous and they’re on practically every street.”

The public works department fielded dozens of calls from residents and is compiling a list of treacherous potholes that need immediate attention. The temporary fixes with cold patches allow for the roads to be drivable before long-term repairs can be made during the conventional paving season in the spring and summer.

John Stout, who is the city’s public works superintendent, said workers are using this warm spell to make quick repairs and plan to continue even if temperatures cool next week.

“This constant freeze-thaw cycle is just wreaking havoc on our roads,” Stout said. “This is one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time, and by all the phone calls I’m getting, yeah it’s bad.”

Any motorist who would like to report a pothole on a city maintained road can call the public works building at 724-223-4233.

“We’ll just keep tackling it,” Stout said. “That’s all we can do.”

The same goes for the state Department of Transportation, which maintains most of the main arteries through Washington and Greene counties. PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said this mild week has helped crews make repairs after being bombarded by snow for the past few weeks.

“Until the weather broke, they weren’t able to get out there because their main concern was to clear the roads,” Petersen said.

PennDOT’s District 12 headquarters, which covers Washington and Greene counties, does not keep statistical records of how many potholes are filled or where the problems areas are located, Petersen said. However, she noted that this winter’s wear on the roads has been worse than typical years.

“It’s a cycle,” she said. “We have seen an increase and our crews are out there.”

Motorists can help PennDOT pinpoint potholes on state roads by contacting them at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.

Meanwhile, the damage hasn’t been quite as extreme in South Strabane Township. That township’s business manager, John Stickle, said they haven’t seen the same uptick in problems recently and are still working to inventory the potholes in their roads.

Their road crews have not spent any time this week making cold patch repairs to township roads.

“I don’t think it’s as bad here,” Stickle said.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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