Potholes Are Affecting Commuters


Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lemus

By Stephanie Lemus

Each winter season the roads are being plowed and salted on in order for commuters to get to school and back home safely. With these safety precautions the town provides, the cold season has created several potholes on many busy streets.

Potholes usually occur right after both snow and rain seep into the roads, then later it tends to freeze when the temperature drops, which causes the road pavement to push up. Most times the pavement remains raised which creates a gap between the pavement and the ground below it. As soon as a vehicle drives by the surface cracks which leads to the creation of potholes.

According to the schlittlaw website, New York City received 1,781 calls about potholes in the month of January alone.

After this winter season, potholes have been causing a buzz in the news. CBS News reported that a man, David Decarle, 37, died after a motorcycle accident in Riverhead on March 16. He was found in the roadway with injuries from the accident. From an investigation, it determined that Decarle lost control of the motorcycle after hitting a pothole.

Kristin Throne, a Long Island Correspondent for WABC-TV, recently reported at Melville, NY to witness behind the scenes on how asphalt is created. Asphalt is a mixture of dark sand or gravel which is mostly used for repairing the roads. The material is dumped down mechanical bins that is mixed in a conveyor belt. Then the material goes into that shaker deck and gets out anything else that should not be in the mix. The material eventually makes its way into drums where it is heated to about 300 degrees to get rid of the moisture in the material. They go over about 3,000 tons in one day. Trucks from local municipalities and private companies line up all day waiting for their turn to fill up.

“After this winter and with all the salt poured on the roads, there are definitely more potholes than usual. As for a few highways that I have been on, the roads are pretty cracked up,” Zachary Klein, Psychology major, said.

Klein does not have his driver’s license. His mother is the one who usually picks him up and drops him off but he notices that there are countless potholes that are difficult to avoid.

“I have seen workers fixing the damage and I believe the towns are trying to fix it but I also believe that it has been a bad winter the streets have a lot of damage,” he adds.

“When I drive to school it is rush hour, the potholes are a big problem,” Katie Munoz, Photography major, said. “People who want to avoid falling into them often swerve into oncoming traffic. I have seen some accidents happen that way.”

Munoz believes that they are fixing the roads with half the effort or using material that does not help to fix the roads.

“They should use something better to fill the potholes because whatever that black stuff is, it does not do a very good job. I feel like they are damaging the streets even more and causing a hazardous environment for drivers,” Munoz concludes.

Even students who commute by bus are affected by potholes.

“They need to fix these potholes. Students work really hard to commute back and forth.” Bianca Paul, Chemistry major, said. “Potholes can damage your tires really badly and it costs money to fix it, money that not everyone has. Also, it is really hazardous and annoying overall.”

Paul takes the bus to commute to school and back.

“The bus driver I know has to try his best to miss the potholes. It can be pretty tough on them because if we hit a few, people tend to get upset and it makes the ride a bit bumpy,” Paul adds.

Paul shares that as a commuter, she is concerned that the driver, commuter, and the bus itself can easily get into several altercations.

“As a commuter, it can affect the ride to and from school in that everyone else will then be in a bad mood and complain a lot. It can not be a good thing for the bus. The buses run all day and if it gets damaged, then it could break down, causing people, like me, or others to be late for class or work and having to wait another hour for the next bus is very annoying,” Paul admits.

Several auto shops and mechanics are familiar with customers stopping by on a regular basis requesting that their tires have been damaged by potholes their vehicle has encountered.

“In the last couple of weeks, I have worked on a lot of cars that have been damaged by the potholes, especially in the last couple of weeks. Daniel Garcia, Service Technician at Lexus of Rockville Center, said. “We get 2 or 3 cars a day with bent wheels, blown out tires, bent suspension parts, it is actually really bad, and some repairs are very expensive.”

Each auto shop has different prices which vary in order to repair tires or any sort of damaged caused by potholes that it may cause on one’s vehicle.

“I know that a new wheel or rim prices ranges somewhere from $700.00 to $1,000.00 and the tire another $200.00 and up,” Garcia adds.

“I am not sure if they are fixing the roads the right way. I think they are covering the potholes as quick as possible and maybe not as best as they can,” Garcia concludes.

Even though potholes are tough to avoid, drivers should always be aware of the puddles on the streets because it could possibly be a deep hidden pothole. In addition, reducing the speed of the vehicle and breaking lightly also reduces the chances of the tires being damaged.

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has a website, http://www.dot.ny.gov, officers a toll free hotline service number 1-800-Pothole (1-800-768-4653).

According to the website, callers will be asked to provide detailed information about the location of the pothole which includes: the name of the community or county; highway route number; closest mileage reference marker number; closest exit number; the direction of travel; and the nearest landmark or crossroad. Individuals who report potholes and that want to be updated on the repair will need to leave their names and address for contact.

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