City reassigns workers to repair potholes

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis's pothole problem has gotten so bad the city is having to pull workers off other jobs to help keep the streets drivable.

Big potholes on major Memphis roads, like Highland Street, have opened up causing problems for drivers.

A patch job on them won't make it go away for good, but the city said it'll have to do for now.

"It's so many potholes all over Memphis like they are everywhere," Tomisha Rucker said.

Rucker said she's grown pretty good in the past few weeks at dodging potholes, including the huge ones.

"I have a small vehicle and the pothole was almost bigger than my vehicle," Rucker said.

The massive pothole on Highland near Central is blocked by a barricade, requiring drivers to swerve. WMC Action News 5 counted four hubcaps left by tires that had fallen victim to the pothole.

"They are terrible, they are a nuisance, I think they should be fixed," Rucker said.

WMC5 caught up with one city crew patching Monday afternoon at Kirby and Winchester. They're one of 12 crews, or roughly 50 people, in total focusing solely on potholes this week.

"We have used all our available staff, we have even shifted everyone out of their available duties in street maintenance," Public Works Director Robert Knecht said. "We are not going to be picking up litter this week, as a matter of fact, just to do nothing but work on potholes."

The city said it's filled 15,000 potholes since mid-January and crews are working overtime, including weekends.

Knecht blames winter weather and then bouts of rain for why the potholes are so bad. The rain will eventually cause some patch jobs to fail.

It has been a very wet February, and the National Weather Service reports Memphis has gotten almost 6 inches of rain above normal.

To be successful in a pothole damage claim against the city, officials said they must have known about it for five business days and been unable to fill it in normal conditions.

"We don't have the ability to have time to make a repair, so it's not fair to the city to try to be held accountable when we can't even do anything about it because of the weather," Knecht said.

WMC5 investigators found residents have filed 140 pothole claims against the city since mid-January and are waiting to find out how many have been paved out.

To learn more about how the city repairs potholes, click here.

You can report potholes by calling 311 or through the See Click Fix website.

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