Local News

Winter weather to blame for record number of potholes

Posted May 5, 2014 6:11 p.m. EDT
Updated May 6, 2014 5:32 a.m. EDT

— Winter weather may be far behind, but Raleigh drivers are still feeling its effects on the streets.

A record number of potholes are cropping up on Raleigh's more than 1,000 miles of road because of the tough winter, according to Raleigh Transportation Field Services Manager Chris McGee.

He said all the thawing and re-freezing of ice on road surfaces and the record use of salt during the frequent winter storms accelerated the appearance of potholes.

"The potholes are definitely worse this year than last year," he said. "It's not that we had that much snow accumulation, but we had a lot small amounts of snow and ice and freezing and thawing, which is what really causes the problem."

From 2011 to 2013 combined, McGee said the city spread less than 500 tons of salt on streets. This year alone, crews poured almost 4,300 tons.

Drivers aren't the only ones taking notice of potholes. Winter's effect on pavement is behind the boom in tire repair and tire sales, according to Scott Shirley, general manager of AAA Car Care of the Carolinas.

"We had more than a 100 percent increase in tire- and wheel-related issues in the first three months of this year," he said.

Tire sales increased almost 118 percent. But while potholes may be giving auto repair shops a bump in revenue, they're a bane to drivers. 

One WRAL viewer tweeted, "Potholes, especially downtown, are worse. Sometimes I'm afraid my Smart Car and I won't resurface."

Crews have been out trying to repair cracked streets, but it's a slow and expensive process. 

"I have about 25 guys who do patchwork," McGee said. "There's no way they can see everything in the city."

Crews will continue repairs throughout the year, but in the meantime McGee said if you see a pothole, slow down and don't swerve to avoid it. 

Drivers can also report potholes to the Public Works Department on their website or by calling 919-996-6446 during weekdays.