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Repairs underway – Roadways

June 7, 2011

by Annie Delano

Repair underway is not just a golf course mantra – take for instance the announced pothole repairs scheduled this week on the Northway, a project that resonates in communities throughout the Northeast come springtime.

Even on the eve of summer, with temperatures reaching the 90s, road crews are still out fixing what last winter wrought.

Potholes form from the expansion and contraction of water transitioning into ice when it

Potholes Located on North Main Avenue (Annie Delano)

seeps into cracks in the road. The expansion leads to a loosening of the pavement, and combine with heavy traffic, the pavement chips away under the weight of vehicles and a pothole forms.

Occupants in any car driving down North Main Avenue in a vehicle are shaken by the streets bumpy condition, and the cars parts begin to rattle. In some areas of the city, the potholes are deep enough to reveal the previous layer of cobblestone below.

The City of Albany takes the repair of potholes quite seriously, since they can be dangerous and damaging  to vehicles on the street. As soon as the snow has melted, the city deploys four to five crews through the city to fix the damage. With three or four people on a crew, a lot of potholes can be fixed in a day.

Once the immediate rush to fix the streets is over, one or two crews are deployed on average each day to fix potholes. Each year, the City of Albany spends approximately 15,000 to 20,000 of their street maintenance budget on the repairs of potholes.

Crews fix the holes with a hot patch mix of asphalt now that blacktop facilities are making asphalt again during the warmer months. In winter, hot asphalt is not produced, since roads are not paved, so crews fix the holes with a cold patch. The cold patch doesn’t last as long as the hot patch, but is a good substitute when hot asphalt is not available.

Bricks showing beneath the pothole on Yates street (Annie Delano)

Potholes are fixed on a priority basis according to Dan DiLillo, assistant commissioner at the Department of General Services. When a person calls the city hotline and complains about a specific pothole, “We try to get to them done within 24 to 48 hours of the complaint,” DiLillo said.

Gouges in tires, broken springs, bent rims and leaking struts are all issues that can be caused by potholes in the streets, and when they do occur, people are forced to pay good money to get their cars repaired. Paul Bickel has been fixing cars at Paul’s Garage Ontario Street for 31 years. “They take an awful abuse,” he said of the cars that are unfortunate enough to strike one of these potholes. “They are not meant to go into potholes.”

Many people bring their cars to Bickel after having tire issues or hearing rattling noises, and while the owner can’t conclude that the all the issues have arisen from the potholes in the street, many customers complain that the noises appeared after their car has struck a pothole.

If drivers hit potholes, they can expect to pay, or at least have to fix their car on their own. Twenty-four year old Derek Ellis, knows all too well what hitting a pothole can do to a car.

He was driving down North Main Avenue, when he couldn’t avoid hitting the hole in the road because of  oncoming traffic.

After hitting the hole at the 35 miles per hour speed limit, Ellis heard a clunk, and after returning home found his $500 amplifier detached from its bracketed spot on the back seat of his car.

For drivers who cannot avoid a pothole, there are a few simple things you can do to decrease

Paul’s Garage on Ontario Street (Annie Delano)

the amount of damage to your car according to AAA. Driving the speed limit, or slower than the speed limit, will reduce the amount of damage to a vehicle if a pothole is hit. It is also important to release the break right before you know you are going to come in contact with a pothole, because having the break on, causes more wear and tear on the shock system.

Thankfully, the repair was a simple bracket for Ellis, but he is no longer keeping his amplifier in the same spot. He’s now found a more secure location for it-on the floor of the trunk. As he put in his last screw making sure his amplifier is safe Ellis commented on the pothole situation: “It’s every year, it’s repetitive,” said Ellis, “People spend hundreds of dollars on damage from potholes.” -30-

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