Bad weather contributing to rise in potholes in Mid-South

(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The increase in rain is making Mid-South roadways a nightmare.

The number of potholes being reported in Memphis and Shelby County is on the rise, and the calls to 311 reporting potholes have significantly increased.

Several WMC Action News 5 viewers said they want to know why this happens all the time in Memphis and what the city is doing to fix the problem.

Wednesday night, a big pothole caused tire damage for multiple drivers near Appling Road and Reese Road.

"That pothole is kind of hidden; you don't see it until you get up on it," Terry Dickerson with AAA said.

"I almost had a wreck. I didn't hit anybody trying to swerve and not hit the pothole," Dorothy Nevills said. "The city needs to get on the job, you know, fix the potholes."

City Public Works Director Robert Knecht said his department is working to patch the potholes as fast as possible. However, the weather is not cooperating.

Bouts of winter weather followed by a few wet weeks means the material used to patch the potholes can give out and make the problem worse.

"We've increased the total number of crews that are out patching potholes," Knecht said. "When it's raining, you can't fill a pothole, you just can't do it."

The city said it has filled 12,000 potholes in Memphis since mid-January, averaging more than four hundred a day.

Shelby County is patching potholes too in unincorporated areas--up to nearly 3,600 potholes patched since January.

Still, the city acknowledges it is slower filling them than city leaders would like. The city's new data website shows it's falling behind on Mayor Jim Strickland's goal to fill potholes within five days of being reported.

"When we have inclement weather like we are experiencing, though, we have challenges," Knecht said.

If you hit a pothole, the fix may not be cheap. An alignment can cost you $75, but depending on the seriousness of the damage, you could shell out thousands of dollars.

"They sneak up on you pretty quick so it's hard to avoid them," Jeremy Carson with Carson Frame and Alignment said.

While sneaky potholes may be a bummer for you this winter, they've kept auto businesses like Carson Frame and Alignment in Midtown busy.

Carson said pothole problems brought in multiple customers just Thursday morning.

"We have three to four cars come in with bent rims," he said.

The deeper the pothole, the more damage it can cause to your vehicle. Common damages include popped tires and bent rims, which can knock your car out of alignment.

If you hit a big pothole, Carson said you should get your vehicle inspected by a professional.

Knecht said the weather has presented challenges in fixing potholes, but the weather might also work against you if you try to file a claim with the city for pothole damage, because the city had to know about the hole and do nothing for five days in ideal weather.

"Typically we would have five days from the date of notification to then make a repair before it would be liable for any pothole damages that occur," Knecht explained. "If we have so many of them that we haven't had adequate time, then we have to take that into consideration."

The Strickland administration is working to cut down on the number of potholes by improving road conditions in Memphis--upping the street paving budget to $18.5 million this fiscal year which is almost double what it was three years ago.

"The mayor's firmly committed to this. We are paving more streets than we ever have," Knecht said.

The $18.5 million pays for 260 miles of paving, and Memphis has more than 6,000 lane miles of streets.

If you spot a pothole, the city asks that you call 311 and report it.

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