Pothole season: How city, towns and local repair shops are dealing with the bumpy roads

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As we see a swing in hot and cold temperatures, you may have noticed the roads a little more bumpy than usual.

News10NBC called several shops around town, many of them say right now they are getting the same complaints and are swamped with customers with damage to their cars because of the potholes out there.

“We’re seeing a lot of people that ran through potholes and the cars are not built like they used to be,” East Ave Auto Owner Paul Marone said.

Marone said it’s that time of year when the potholes are everywhere, taking a toll on drivers and their cars.

“Maybe three or four people a day right now that have run through a pothole have some kind of alignment problem,” Marone said. “Some of them are very big. Some of them are minor or sometimes it just knocks it out of line or we have a tire that went soft. We do get flat tires, only that kind of thing. But some of the potholes are big enough to damage the car.”

Marone said potholes could heavily damage your tires and suspension and you could shell out hundreds of dollars.

Over at Schrader’s Garage, manager Dan Schrader said they’re seeing a few cars a week having similar issues.

“There’s definitely some big ones out there. You’ve just got to try to be aware, you know, know your route and try to plan accordingly,” Schrader said.

Schrader said a lot of times he will see issues like bent rims from road damage bends causing the tire not to fit and unsafe driving conditions.

“It’s always a good idea to check the alignment in the spring, even if you don’t remember hitting any big pothole,” Schrader said. “Sometimes just the sum of all the little ones can make a difference, too.

Last year several shops dealt with a COVID-related shortage of tires, Marone said while it’s not as bad as it was, if you do hit a pothole and don’t have a spare, you may still have to wait to get a new tire.

There’s still parts shortages for lots of particular models. The tires if you have an original equipment tire on a car, a lot of times we can’t match that like we used to and now you have to buy a set of tires.”

Schrader and Marone urge you to slow down to try to avoid any potholes this time of year and of course bring your car to your local shop if you do have any concerns.

The city said they have been working on potholes all year.

“What we use is actual asphalt,” City of Rochester operations director Karen St. Aubin said. “And we have an asphalt recycler. So we heat it, put it in our trucks so when we go out and take care of a pothole, it is a permanent repair.”

St. Aubin said they are out treating potholes all year and are ahead of the curve with a different approach than most towns have.

“A lot of places go with cold patch, which is effective, but it does come back out,” St. Aubin said. “This is a much more permanent solution.”

Anytime there’s a crack in the road, where water can get in, freezes and thaws that’s when the pothole is created.

St. Aubin said they have 311 workers working around the clock and if you see an issue to call them and they will get it fixed in two days.

As for towns like Gates, they have to cold patch until they have the resources to do the permanent work.

“We do potholes all season long in January and February, because we had to make sure that the road is safe not only for the people that are driving down and before our own plows and maintain the roads,” Highway Superintendent at Town of Gates Kurt Rappazzo said. “This late in the season, we try to hold off a little bit because cold patches a temporary repair. Once the asphalt plants open in in mid to late April, we actually go back through and do and do more permanent repairs.”

In a statement, The New York Department of Transportation said:

The safety of the traveling public is always the top priority of the New York State Department of Transportation. The state’s highways are some of the heaviest traveled roads in the country and the recent freeze-thaw cycle on pavement has exaggerated pothole conditions. Department of Transportation maintenance crews are working around the clock to aggressively address potholes as they develop. Motorists are urged to call 1-800-POTHOLE (1-800-768-4653) to report potholes on any State-owned highway.

Rappazzo said they urge drivers to use caution while out on the roads and to be patient as crews work to fix the holes.

“At this time of year, we are kind of just doing the really bad ones,” Rappazzo said. “But some other ones we might put cones on top of just to just to save time and material.”

The Town of Penfield told News10NBC residents can report potholes on town roads by calling 585-340-8710 or emailing publicworks@penfield.org.