City working to fix potholes left by winter storm

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 2/28/2013 10:18 am Published: 2/26/2013 8:05 pm

While Monday night's winter storm didn't leave too much snow behind in Tulsa, it did leave plenty of new potholes all over town in its wake.

Potholes have long been a problem on Tulsa streets, but winter storms often create dozens or even hundreds of new ones.

City of Tulsa street maintenance crews were spread across town all day Tuesday tirelessly working to repair as many of those potholes as possible, at least temporarily.

Temporary pothole repairs on average cost the city between $3 and $9 each, but they only last for a short time.

But anybody who drives on Tulsa streets after a winter storm knows the feeling of being practically attacked by the cracks and breaks in the pavement.

"They're everywhere, and I think that they're just getting worse," Laura McGee, a Tulsa driver whose tire was blown out and her wheel bent by a pothole after the first winter storm a week ago, said. "So, I think it's a big aggravation to a lot of people."

It's aggravation that Rod Bush and his pothole repair crew do their best to fix.

"As we're driving down the street we look for the potholes," Bush said. "What makes our cars shake makes yours shake."

His temporary repair technique is simple: drop down plenty of steaming low-grade, but malleable and quick-setting asphalt, level it out as flat as possible, and then pound it down even flatter until it sets.

After five short minutes, his crew is onto the next one. It's a process they repeat up to 50 times a day.

"We measure it by tons of asphalt that we put down: four, five, six tons a day," Bush said.

And Bush's crew starts this process only after spending all morning driving the snow plows that caused most of the potholes in the first place.

"A lot of the ones we've gone out on have calls of damage to vehicles," Bush said. "So, that's why we try to get out here as fast as we can."

But no matter how many they repair, there always seems to be another pothole to fill.

"[It's] job security," Bush said. "There's always going to be potholes."

The reason his crew was only doing temporary fixes on Tuesday,  is because the asphalt used in more permanent fixes requires better, drier weather.

Generally the permanent fixes cost the City of Tulsa an average of $1,500 each.

But while Bush and his crew were working their way across the city fixing potholes, drivers were still dealing with the effects of the potholes they had not yet reached.

All over Tulsa, drivers were having their cars knocked out of alignment, tires popped and wheels bent and damaged.

It's a common story every time Tulsa deals with winter weather.

Laura McGee was exiting I-44 at Peoria last week when she hit a giant pothole.

"My car, like, goes up and comes back down," she said. "And I'm like 'oh my gosh, what did I do?"

It only took a second for McGee to realize how badly her car was damaged.

"I pull over and I get out and look at it, and my entire wheel is basically bent," she said. "And so my tire's not even attached anymore. So I ended up having to call a tow truck."

Kevin Thames oversees the service department at Jim Glover Chevrolet, and told FOX23 News he sees the same issues after every winter storm.

"Wheels that are bent, tires that are blown out, that type of thing," Thames said.

And that damage, he said, can do a number on a person's wallet.

"For some of those wheels, they're $500 or $600, and the tires $200 or $300," he said. "And then it goes over to an insurance claim, and you have to worry about whether your insurance goes up or not."

McGee's repairs cost her just more than $100, but only because she happens to work at Jim Glover and got a discount.

And no matter how quickly Bush and his crew repair the potholes, drivers seem to keep rolling into problems after winter storms.

"Let's get those potholes fixed," McGee said. "They ruin cars and days."

If there's a pothole in your area that needs to be repaired, you can report it to the City of Tulsa's Customer Care Center by calling 918-596-2100.

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