DOT officials: one of worst pothole seasons ever

Potholes

No driver can dodge the bumper crop of potholes this winter has produced. Officials at the State DOT say this is one of the worst pothole seasons they have ever seen.

The repairs are nearly impossible to keep up with. And the temporary fills just aren’t standing up to the unrelenting weather.

Crater-sized potholes pockmark Route 219 in Cattaraugus County, from Ashford to Ellicottville. The condition of the road is so bad, the State DOT calls it a “severe” problem, and has put up signs to warn drivers.

State DOT Regional Public Information Officer Susan Surdej said, “We have crews that are diligently patching the holes. Unfortunately, with this weather, using cold-patch material – which is all that’s available to us this time of the year – we’re not having much success with those repairs staying in place.”

Western New York has gone through at least three colder-then-milder cycles this winter. January’s fluctuations have been especially brutal.

Surdej says there’s no question the weather is to blame.

“We’ve experienced these frigid temperatures, and then we’ve had thaws, and that freeze-thaw cycle is actually what causes that pavement to heave. And we’re actually seeing the results of that out on the roadways,” she explained. “In fact, we’re on target to use approximately double the cold-patch material that we’ve used in previous years.”

More potholes mean more damage to cars. Casullo’s in Kenmore has been seeing three or four pothole cases every day lately.

Rocco Casullo said, “We see wheels on a daily basis. We have an aluminum wheel today – this is a today repair. Damage to a wheel, it’s a $220 wheel. Plus the tire, plus the alignment, and of course it causes suspension damage. So every vehicle that hits a pothole should be re-aligned.”

Add up the cost of all those repairs, and you’re talking hundreds, maybe even over $1,000.

“A little excessive this year. We’re seeing the vehicles come into the shop. People are saying they seem them everywhere, and they can’t steer around them,” Casullo said.

He advises customers to avoid potholes, if possible, or at the very least to slow down.

“If not, unfortunately, I’d steer through it. You surely don’t want to cross lanes in a vehicle and come head-on with another car,” Casullo said.

In the spring, the State DOT will do more permanent repair work on the 219 using regular asphalt fill. That stretch is scheduled to be re-paved completely in 2016, but Surdej says they’ll try to bump up that date and get the work done sooner.

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