City asks for help to find potholes

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 7th, 2009 at 1:35 pm

This pothole was chalked up
on the Pothole Ride last year.
(Photo: Heather Andews)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation just issued their latest press release about the big winter storm. This time, the focus is on potholes.

PBOT is urging residents to report potholes* because the "heavy snowfall caused treacherous conditions for motorists..." (Hey wait, don't potholes pose an equally, and even more severe potential hazard to cyclists?).

The press release goes on to describe the reason for the potholes; "a combination of heavy snow and rain, freezing and expanding of moisture under pavement, and thawing...".

"On Monday we received two dozen calls to our Pothole Hotline. On Wednesday we received five dozen calls."
-- Mayor Sam Adams

They're forgetting one other contributing factor: motor vehicle snow chains and studded traction tires (don't get me started).

In the statement, Mayor Sam Adams said that filling the tire-popping, rim-wrenching, and bone-rattling potholes is "an ongoing battle." Adams added that, "On Monday we received two dozen calls to our Pothole Hotline. On Wednesday we received five dozen calls."

The City says "patch crews are rolling," and they urge folks to call the Pothole Hotline at (503) 823-BUMP (2867). Response time is usually within 48 hours.

Last year about this time, a community effort in the form of a Pothole Bike Ride sought to identify and then report potholes. Led by Daniel Johnson, the effort paid off as several of the potholes they found were soon filled by City maintenance crews.

According to Mayor Adams in this morning's press release,

"Any time is the right time to call in your request for a pothole repair." He also encourages motorists to pay attention to road conditions and drive safely.

I think they meant to write, "He also encourages everyone to pay attention..."

[*Note: PBOT will only heed your pothole filling request if the road is under their jurisdiction. See the full press release for details on where to call for roads not managed by PBOT.]

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  • Hart January 7, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    That looks like a sinkhole, not a pothole.

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  • RyNO Dan January 7, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Potholes are motor vehicle traffic calming devices. I say leave em.

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  • encephalopath January 7, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    "That looks like a sinkhole, not a pothole."

    That how pot holes form. The pavement cracks and lets water through. The water washes away the aggregate underneath, the road grade sinks, the pavement breaks into pieces, and vehicles knock out the pavement chunks.


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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    "That looks like a sinkhole, not a pothole"

    i agree. i swapped out the photo for a more authentic pothole!

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  • brewcaster January 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Pretty easy to find the potholes. They are EVERYWHERE right now.

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  • A-dub January 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Chains and vehicles play a role in pot holes but the freeze thaw cycle is the real killer. There was a freeway in Detroit (much like the 710 in LA) that was halted mid-build and when they went back years later to complete the freeway they had to tear the original portion out even though no cars had driven on it because it had been decimated by years of freeze thaw. That said, once pot holes form, cars increase their size very quickly.

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  • Hart January 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Jonathon, that new photo is TOTALLY a pothole. That would be about a 8.5 on the Michigan pothole scale. Yikes!

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  • Hart January 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    "That how pot holes form. The pavement cracks and lets water through. The water washes away the aggregate underneath, the road grade sinks, the pavement breaks into pieces, and vehicles knock out the pavement chunks."

    Nope, that's still a sinkhole. Potholes are formed from tiny amounts of moisture freezing (expanding) and thawing (contracting), causing the pavement to crack over time and be ripped up by passing vehicle tires. This happens when there is still plenty of dirt under the pavement.

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  • Faux Porteur January 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Anybody want to write an iPhone app that can take a Geotagged photo and send them to the city automatically? When you leave for your ride, open the app. See a pothole anywhere, snap it. The info gets to the crews automatically.

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  • Hart January 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Sure. What's an iPhone?

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  • bahueh January 7, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Faux...a simple phone call works too.
    don't overthink the situation...its a plain ol' pothole, they're fun to bunnyhop at high speeds.

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  • Hart January 7, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    But aren't we all high paid computer programmers who laugh at the unemployed on our ride to work?

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  • A-dub January 7, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    High paid? Computer programmer? and what's this interweb thing you are referring to?

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  • John Russell January 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I would be very interested in data on the mode of transportation (amongst other data) of people calling in road hazards. I would not be surprised if most of the people were cyclists. Even riding in a car and hitting a very large pothole, I couldn't for the life of me remember exactly where it was—not so on my daily bike commute.

    The City of Vancouver has also been incredibly good about getting potholes filled in, along with every other hazard I have encountered so far (glass, gravel, bad utility coverings, worn lane lines, etc.). I report so many potholes to them on a regular basis, that I've moved from calling them in to simply mapping them out en masse and emailing. The majority have been fixed by the next day!

    For any road hazards in Vancouver, call 360.696.8177. For after-hours emergencies, call 360.693.9302.

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  • Stig January 7, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    'Hey wait, don’t potholes pose an equally, and even more severe potential hazard to cyclists?'

    Equally and even more severe?

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  • justa January 7, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    This reminds me of walking around Irving Park the other day--someone had taken a can of white spraypaint and highlighted all of the uneven/excessive cracks, and places where there were ridges of raised concrete and such. I wonder if it has anything to do with the city, or if it was just a concerned citizen? I bit it a couple times yesterday hitting hard-to-see cracks on my skateboard, which probably would have been perceivable if they were highlighted.

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  • justa January 7, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    PS--I'm talking about the sidewalk around the Irving park perimeter, not the roadway.

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  • Faux Porteur January 7, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Sure, I could stop my bike, dial a phone number, wait for an answer, explain that I am reporting a pothole, I could estimate the size and placement, I could explain what intersection I'm at, a person could be writing or typing this all down. All that can, and will continue to happen. Or, we can speed up the process with a very small application written for a very common wireless device. If there are 30+ fart simulator apps for the iPhone there could be a pothole repair request application.

    Maybe its not just for potholes, maybe its for a variety of dangerous road conditions such as sewer grates that are unsafe to ride over, problematic/defective roadway engineering, bike lanes covered in sharp gravel or leaves, bike lanes that have had their paint destroyed by automobile tire-chains (or the freeze/thaw cycle), etc...

    I'm not a computer programmer, I have been unemployed, I ride to work (to my very-non-high paying bicycle mechanic job), I never laugh, ever.

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  • Schrauf January 7, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Jonathan probably means an equal immediate hazard, and even more severe potential hazard. Or something.

    Hey, be glad you have potholes to see. In Spokane many roads have been ice covered for four weeks. Even before this storm our streets were about fives times as bad as Portland. Wait until the ice is gone. This is what we get for the lowest tax rates in the state.

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  • Charlie January 7, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Speaking of large potholes, has anyone driven I-5 North towards the Fremont Bridge? I got a ride home from the airport the other night after the Max stopped running and we saw some monsters (no doubt they were caused by the truck traffic). I can't believe we didn't blow out a tire.

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  • The Rev January 7, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    I'm looking for an excuse to go down and visit P-town (I'm from Seattle) and was wondering if anyone knew of any cycling events or anything going on in the next month or so for a Wed/Thurs-Sat/Sun. Last time I came through was for The World Car-Free Cities Conference and Pedalpalooza, which rocked. Even if there's a ride one day, a show another, just so long as I have something to look forward to (almost) every single day.

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  • Hart January 8, 2009 at 12:23 am

    In Michigan we spray paint around the tiny patches on pavement that do not have potholes, and on them we throw tiny little parties between the changing of the traffic signals when Hummers, Escalades, Tundras, and Forresters come rumbling down upon us, thus making out little patches of virgin asphault smaller and smaller. Why are we bailing out these people and their SUV obsessions again?

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  • Anonymous January 8, 2009 at 12:28 am

    I don't know about potholes but almost hit a pothead this morning. I was about to pull out from a stopsign in my car and saw this guy at the very last second with no headlight, almost got me into a mess. If you are riding with no headlight you need to treat every intersection like a stop sign and not just roll in front of cars that can't see you, or stay on the sidewalk. Just because he can see the car dosn't make the whole situation safe.
    Joggers be carefull runiing the streets in the dark, One of those potholes could twist an ankle badly.
    I see some streets like sections of Sandy are just continuous potholes for blocks on end. This is just a disaster for Portland.

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  • justa January 8, 2009 at 12:49 am

    rev--i don't know what sort of stuff you're into, but zoobomb minibike winter is happening all of president's day/valentine's day weekend.

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  • Coyote January 8, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Asphalt is the real problem here. As Hart mentioned even an unused asphalt surface will degrade quickly. Sure heavy vehicles and traction devices will accelerate the process, but the material itself is the real problem. The truly sustainable solution is to start moving toward concrete or better yet brick or stone paved streets.

    Brick paved streets will never be velvety smooth like new asphalt, but they are very repairable, they can be made of local materials, and can last a very long time. Another advantage is that brick paved streets are a natural traffic calming device.

    Asphalt road ways are not sustainable technology.

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  • Daniel (teknotus) Johnson January 8, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Hey maybe it is time for another pothole ride.

    I'll bug my friends about making pothole reporting smartphone apps.

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  • jim January 9, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Pot holes are worse this year than ever before. Are they this bad in Washington too? I wonder if it is because we are using the pervious asfault that dosn't send up a plume of water behind a car? I would guess that water is seeking into the micro cracks moreso with our asfault mix, freezing expanding the asfault until it just falls apart? Heavy trucks don't help either.
    I would bet cold weather states are using a different asfault blend than we are?
    I see a lot of job opportunities fixing potholes. Maybe Sam will take his scalpel and cut some goverment waste to pay for this? I would begin by stop paying $7.00 a gallon for biodisel (city trucks)

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  • mark January 9, 2009 at 10:31 pm
  • mark January 9, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    that was at 122nd and Division a week or two ago.

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