Potholes: Be part of the solution

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Take steps to get them filled

If every rider reported one pothole to its local transportation department today, the world would be a better place to ride tomorrow. Or maybe next week or next month.

And that's better than not doing anything about it at all.

Back in 2011 we published an article to help riders understand the issue and encourage them to be a part of the solution. That article lit up Seattle's city hall, with then mayor, Mike McGinn asking SDOT for answers on why the situation was so bad and not getting better.

Since then a lot of funding issues have been voted in and, in fact, the streets of Seattle are getting better, but the city still fails in two areas, the same way many other cities around the Pacific Northwest do:

1) No annual crack-fill program - without an annual crack-fill program, the city will continue to rely on the three teams of 'Pothole Rangers' to repair portions of the street that fail, when such a street is not on the list for a repave.

2) No edge sealing of repairs - edge sealing repairs is the final process of mending a pothole. By putting a seal around the repair, water is less likely to enter the repair. If it does, it can freeze, expand and break the asphalt and bingo, the pothole is back.

On the other hand, Shoreline to the north of Seattle, is a model city when it comes to road maintenance. The city has an annual crack-fill program and edge seals its repairs. I know they have a team that repairs potholes, but you'll almost never see them, since the annual crack seal program and edge sealing protocol keeps the team focused on maintenance, not repairs which are more expensive.

But regardless of what the methods are a city chooses to maintain their streets, potholes are inevitable.

How you can be part of the solution

Today, as opposed to 2011, it's much easier to report potholes when you see them. It used to be you had to pick up the phone and dial the local department of transportation, hoping someone would pick up the phone. Now there are a number of apps you can put on your phone.

Some larger cities have their own app. In Seattle that's the Find It, Fix It app. The app is handy for not only reporting potholes, but other issues as well like a downed tree or powerline, clogged storm drains, abandoned vehicles, dead animals, and more. If you live in Seattle, download this app to your phone.

Smaller cities, like Shoreline, utilize the SeeClickFix app. Whether your city uses this app or not, it's handy to have in case you're somewhere that does, and you want to report an issue.

Both apps use GPS tracking to determine your location, so it makes it simple to pinpoint the actual location of the issue, without having to determine what the address is. Just be sure to report the issue while you're standing in front of it, rather than a half hour later when you're somewhere else.

Do your homework, see what ways you can report potholes in your community and take action.

Patrick Thomas/Winter 2020

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