Slew of potholes leave Memphis drivers damaged

Wednesday at 5: Pothole problems, payouts

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis tax payers filled almost 80,000 pot holes last year, and fewer than 25 percent of the drivers who hit those potholes ever saw a penny to help fix their cars.

Patricia Anderson was driving westbound on American Way in the right lane when she hit a pothole.

"I saw the pothole, and I was trying to dodge the pothole, but a car was coming in the left lane," Anderson said. "I either would have hit the car or the pothole, and the pothole is what I got. Apparently, it's been there for a while, and the city has just not paid attention to what's going on."

Robert Knecht, who heads up Memphis' Public Works Division, said his crews do all they can to prevent damage to cars from potholes.

"I think we do excellent overall as a city doing potholes," Knecht said. "We have a very proactive strategy. Most people don't realize we have crews out every day who do nothing but drive around and look for potholes."

They don't have to look far.

Last year, city crews filled 79,300 potholes--an average of 13 potholes per mile of road in Memphis

More than 1,100 drivers filed claims against the city for pothole damage to their cars. Only 230 got paid.

Thomas Hrach was one of those denied.

"I don't think it's fair as long as you can show proof that the damage actually occurred from the potholes," Hrach said.

For the city to be liable, it must have had notice of the pothole prior to it causing damage, and must also have had reasonable time to repair the pothole after notification.

At a cost to taxpayers of about $30 per pothole repair, last year the city shelled out $2.3 million for pothole repairs. And those repairs will likely only last a year.

"It bothers me, because they are focusing on just going out and fixing, doing a quick fix on the streets, and they are not concerned whether that is going to cost them more money in the future," Hrach said.

"Could we do more? Sure, sure we could. But it all comes down to funding. And it's a challenge that all major cities deal with every year," responded Knecht.

Ideally, Knecht believes resurfacing streets instead of patching them is a longer-lasting solution.

The city budgeted $15 million for resurfacing last year, but that is not enough to resurface the 6,000 miles of road that need it.

Meaning the city will undoubtedly see more pot hole patches and more damage claims from drivers like Patricia Anderson.

The American Way pothole cost Anderson $1,695.

If you see a pothole, report it! Here's how:

The best way to do that is through the 311 App called See-Click-Fix. The app is free. 

After you register, click report, take a picture of the pot hole, write a description and click submit.

The app knows the pot hole location by using the GPS coordinates embedded in the photo.

The app also allows you to track progress on your report.

Android users who want to download the app should click here.

Apple users who want to download the app should click here.

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