Philadelphia's Pothole Situation Is Out Of Control

Philadelphia pothole salt truckWill Wei / Business InsiderIn Philadelphia this month, I spotted a city truck loaded up with salt, with a rear wheel stuck in an enormous hole on South 13 Street. Traffic couldn’t get through.

Winter is no good for roads, and Philadelphia is having an especially hard time.

On a three-mile stretch of City Avenue, Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo counted more than 300 potholes — just on the northbound side of the street.

A PennDOT spokesperson told him a season full of snow, freezing temperatures, and rain has made repairs an uphill battle:

“With those extreme temperature changes and all that precipitation, we had pavements breaking everywhere. It was a shockwave. This is as severe a situation as we’ve experienced in quite some time.”

Potholes are formed when snow and ice melt and seep into cracks in the pavement, according to Michigan’s DOT. That water freezes again during cold nights and expands, pushing the pavement up. As temperatures rise again, the ground beneath the pavement lowers again, but the pavement doesn’t. Cars drive over that cavity, cracking the pavement and creating a pothole.

A Philadelphia Streets Department spokesperson confirmed that this winter has been an especially tough one for dealing with potholes.So far in 2014, the department has filled 3,975 potholes. At this point last year, the number was just 1,540.

The problem is that potholes started showing up earlier than usual this year — in January instead of February or March — and street crews are busy struggling to deal with the huge amount of snow dumped on the city this winter.

“The severe weather conditions have caused our roads to sustain damage from the freezing and thawing of moisture that seeps into the roadways,” the Streets Department spokesperson told Business Insider. But while she said that crews will continue to make repairs “to return the streets to a state of good repair,” locals have taken to Twitter to air their complaints:

Philadelphia isn’t the only city struggling: New York City’s DOT has filled a record-breaking 113,131 potholes, roughly double the rate it set in 2013 and 2012.

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