By Sam Rothman SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — If you have ever driven around Syracuse, you’ve probably hit a pothole or two. Now that spring has sprung, potholes are popping up more than ever.
“It’s not good this year, but it’s not different from any other year,” said Michael Greene, who is a Syracuse Common Councilor and serves as the Chair of the Public Works Committee. “It’s just a kind of a thing that happens every spring.”
Why are potholes such a problem here in Syracuse? Well, as usual, it all comes down to the weather. As winter leaves Syracuse, a new season takes its place: pothole season. As snow makes its way out town, potholes quickly replace it on the roads.
“At the end of the winter, we tend to have a lot of potholes that are a result of the weather we have,” said Greene. “Ice will get underneath the surface of the asphalt, and then it will kind of pop up.”
Although about 4,000 potholes were fixed last year, Greene said crews just can’t keep up with the high demand. He said construction workers are out in full force, but potholes continue to be an endless issue.
“Once there is a pothole, it’s likely to return, unfortunately,” said Greene. “So, that’s a problem we always deal with. Until you do a complete reconstruction on the street, you’re going to be potentially dealing with recurring potholes.”
Those reconstructions don’t happen very often. While each street is given a rating from one to 10 depending on how bad the potholes are, only the roads which receive a three or lower rating are being paved. Greene said the roads that rank in the middle are just left alone.
“There might be some streets that are in bad condition but don’t quite reach the level worthy of reconstruction,” said Greene. “Unfortunately, it kind of makes the most sense to just let them deteriorate for a couple of years and then redo the whole thing rather than trying to do maintenance on them.”
While potholes often give drivers headaches, the real damage is seen on cars. Tony Masello, the owner of Masello’s Auto Service in Syracuse, said customers come in every day with suspension issues, as well as busted tires and rims after they hit a pothole. He added these repairs aren’t cheap.
“Rims can be $600 dollars,” Masello said. “And then suspension can vary from a few hundred to a few thousand.”
However, Masello said trying to avoid the pothole can sometimes lead to even worse problems.
“You don’t want to swerve and hit somebody,” said Masello. “If you jam your breaks, you’re asking for trouble there too. It’s tough.”
Masello said while the beginning of spring is the busiest time for pothole problems, it’s also the most dangerous.
“This time of year, they’re covered in water,” said Masello. “You don’t even see them. It just looks like a puddle.”
Although potholes bring Masello business, he’s also a frustrated driver who deals with the craters each time he hits the road. However, he said there isn’t much a driver can do to prevent the damage either than maintain your tire pressure and drive slowly when you spot one.
“The roads aren’t getting any better,” said Masello. “A lot of the roads aren’t being repaired. It just seems to be more and more each year.”
Councilor Greene said he realizes the growing problem, which is why the Department of Public Works will be increasing its paving budget up to $4 million dollars next year, which is a $500, 000 increase.