$800 in pothole damage: ‘I want my money back,’ Rochester woman says

Rochester woman has $800 in pothole damage

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Despite historically low snowfall this winter, drivers are experiencing damaged roads as if plows were out in full force.

One Rochester woman told News10NBC’s Marsha Augustin she spent nearly $1,000 fixing the damage one pothole did to her car. 

Pothole damage costs a pretty penny for the state and drivers.

The state Department of Transportation spent $753 million on road repairs last year. The average driver in Rochester spends about $2,000 a year on repairs from rough roads. 

Lynn Kalnitz from Rochester says although her repair costs were lower than that, potholes are impacting people’s wallets.

“We were on the ramp accelerating up to get to expressway speeds on 390 North — all of a sudden boom boom, I hit a pothole,” Kalnitz said. Her car suffered alignment damage, but that wasn’t all, she explained.

“I blew two tires, my right passenger side tires,” Kalnitz said.

Lynn Kalnitz had two tires blow when she hit a pothole on an on-ramp to Route 390. (Photos provided)

Not one but two tires costing her nearly $500. She also had additional costs of close to $300 for towing. She was traveling from East Henrietta Road to the on-ramp to 390 North — it was dark and she didn’t see the massive pothole until it was too late. Her husband went back the next day to take pictures of it.

“It’s like a canal. I’m guessing it’s like a couple of feet long and he said it’s about six or seven inches deep. I’m lucky I was completely unharmed, but someone may not be as lucky as I was,” Kalnitz said. 

I went to East Henrietta Road and got on the ramp to check out this pothole. Five days later and it was still there, exactly where Kalnitz said.

Mark Gruba, the communications specialist with AAA in Rochester, gave some tips on what drivers can do to avoid potholes without jeopardizing their safety.

“The best recommendation is to try to slow down but don’t brake as you are going over the pothole. Try to brake and then release the brake and let the tire roll over the hole in the road,” Gruba said.

Gruba also explained that softens the impact of the pothole but it’s not going to mitigate it entirely.

Kalnitz called the state DOT at 1-800-POTHOLE hoping to get reimbursed. They gave her a claim number and told her they would email a claim form to her. However, the DOT tells me it is only liable for damages that happen between the first day of May and the 15th day of November.

“That’s a nice way to weasel out of it. I want my money back, but I want them to fix that pothole,” Kalnitz said.

Statement from DOT: “Information about the claims process is available here. Please note the following from the claim form:  per Highway Law § 58, the state shall not be liable for damages suffered by any person from defects in state highways, except between the first day of May and the fifteenth day of November, subject to limitations pursuant to the Court of Claims Act § 8. Maintenance crews are working around the clock to aggressively address potholes as they develop. Drivers are encouraged to call 1-800-POTHOLE to report potholes on any state-owned highway.”

There is a statute called “notice of defect,” which means if someone reported a pothole to the state DOT or the municipality prior to you hitting the pothole there is a good chance you will get reimbursed.