Fierce Winter, Potholes Create a Maze for Travelers in Northeast

By Jenna Abate, Staff Writer
March 2, 2014; 5:23 AM ET
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Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg launch comprehensive plan to battle potholes as the record-setting winter continues on Feb. 20, 2014.

Potholes are notorious for their annual appearances as wintry weather subsides and springlike temperatures slowly creep into the forecast. It's going to be a bumpy road to spring, and that is thanks to this year's potholes popping up sooner due to the frequent freeze-thaw cycle of this wild winter.

In Massachusetts, potholes have been so bad that for the first time ever Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has published their pothole hotline on their website so that the community can aid in spotting potholes quickly.

"It's pretty tough to gauge where the most or largest potholes will be especially because Massachusetts roads and bridges are exposed all year long but the hotline helps us prioritize where we need to be first, second and third," Michael Verseckes, public affairs officer of MassDot, said.

MassDot is trying to work as efficiently and as quickly through the I-95 corridor to make travel safe on the Massachusetts highways but unseasonable warming periods are making their job tough to keep up with.

Potholes are normal visitors during the Massachusetts springtime and with two rather recent warm periods, MassDOT has seen potholes sooner this year, Verseckes said.

Massachusetts has had some above- and below-freezing temperatures, and therefore Verseckes said the freeze-thaw process has sped up.

Conditions in Pennsylvania also have suffered due to the incessant freeze-thaw cycle.

"As for the current concern, potholes, the freeze-thaw cycles this year has resulted in more potholes than usual. Pennsylvania Department of Transpiration (PennDOT) crews are plowing and treating state roads to keep them passable when winter precipitation strikes and fixing potholes between winter events, George McAuley, assistant director executive for maintenance of PennDOT said.

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However, thanks to a new piece of legislation, the roads in Pennsylvania should be repaired sooner rather than later. This, combined with revenue for much-needed and long-delayed projects, will bring tremendous benefits to Pennsylvanians on the roads.

"Thanks to the recent passage of the new Transportation Funding Bill, once winter is over, we will be resurfacing more roads and fixing more bridges starting this year. With Pennsylvania's aggressive freeze-thaw cycle, we will always see potholes, but the funding bill will ensure that our forces and the private sector through construction contracts can reconstruct roadways on which we could previously only patch potholes," McAuley said.

It seems as though no Northeastern metropolitan area was spared by the wintry weather hangover. New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) is reporting staggering numbers. The weekend of Feb. 21, 2014, 100 crews were dispatched to resurface key portions of major highways throughout the city.

"Our crews have been hard at work all winter long maintaining the city's roadways as they experience wear-and-tear due to the significant snowfall and cold weather," Nicholas Mosquera, spokesperson for NYCDOT, said.

Number of NYC Potholes as of Feb. 26, 2014

# of Potholes
Staten Island

Potholes have become such an issue that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has set aside $7.3 million to facilitate and accelerate the extraordinary number of road repairs needed this winter. The 100 crews released the weekend of Feb. 21, 2014, will be the first of many weekly pothole blitzes to fix the issues beginning in March.

NYC's administrative departments clearly recognize the issue and these blitzes are apart of the stepped-up efforts the city is making on pothole repair.

In the meantime, social media has been used to keep records of the potholes throughout the Northeast. Mosquera said that NYCDOT has a "Daily Pothole" Tumblr page where statistics, pictures, and memes making light of the situation have been posted.

Twitter has been flooded with TwitPics and digital accounts of #PotholeProblems.

But it's not all bad; two Montreal-based photographers were able to make light of the pesky potholes via Elite Daily.


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