City to start paving streets soon, ending pothole problems

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Filling potholes is a full-time job for dozens of City of Memphis employees.

But with spring comes the start of paving season. Between now and November, Memphis streets will be shown some much needed TLC.

If there's one thing every Memphian agrees on, it's the city's serious pothole problem.

"The potholes are terrible!" Cynthia Rogers said.

"Well, there are too many potholes, and I'm sure a lot of people feel that way," Marion Smith said.

It's hard out there for a Memphis driver -- and dangerous.

"Oh my God," Rogers said. "I hit a pothole that was so bad I had to pull over and see if anything was wrong with my car.  It happened at Shelby Drive and Hickory Hill.  The potholes there are terrible!"

Twenty city crews, whose only job is to fill potholes, have filled more than 30,000 potholes since mid-January.  It's an imperfect and temporary solution.

"I believe they're filling them up, but they don't look too up to par," Rogers said. "They look like Oreo crumbs."

Robert Knecht, the director of Memphis Public Works Department, said that's because his crews can't use a hot asphalt mix in the winter months.

However, he said the cavalry in this case, the asphalt crews, is getting warmed up.

"We plan to start transitioning out of potholes, and into street paving here in the next couple of weeks," Knecht said. "We need the right weather and the right temperatures to really start."

Knecht said 260 lane miles will be paved this year. Memphis' annual paving budget is $19.5 million, up a million dollars from last fiscal year.

"Mayor Strickland has been very aggressive about this," Knecht said. "We have a great paving program.  A lot of cities might be envious about how much money we are allocating to pave streets."

City leaders share your pothole pain, and they want Memphians to know street paving is a priority.

"One thing citizens appreciate is when streets get paved," Knecht said.

"Let's hope they get to it now," Smith said, who dodged three potholes earlier in the day. "Now that it's warming up, let's hope they start soon."

To report a pothole, visit the City of Memphis website and click on the "311" link:

If you'd like to see the city's schedule for repaving, you can click here.

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