Crew members from Cincinnati's Department of Public Services prepare to plow the streets on Feb. 4, 2022.
The wintry weather continues, ensuring that Cincinnati's potholes may become even bigger. But the city's leaders say that they're ready to do something about it, as long as Mother Nature cooperates.
"Put simply, there are just too many potholes on our streets right now, and this has a serious impact on Cincinnati's ability to feel safe and comfortable getting around our city," Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval said during a media briefing Wednesday
According to charts provided by Interim City Manager John Curp on Feb. 23, there were 1,496 pothole service requests between Feb. 1 and Feb. 20, the highest number of requests for a given month since the 1,071 requests in March 2019.
In contrast, just 468 of this month's service requests have been addressed, as opposed to 1,004 potholes serviced in March 2019.
Curp's data also shows that service requests steadily increased after Winter Storm Landon swept through Cincinnati
. The city's crews are responsible for more than 3,000 lane miles, a release from Curp shows.
The regular rain, ice and snow the region has seen this month have contributed to the number and severity of Cincinnati's potholes, Road Superintendent Jarrod Bolden told media on Wednesday. Pureval added that cycles of cold, wet weather followed by a thawing out, unseasonably warmer weather and another round of precipitation have been a challenge.
"If you have water that gets into cracks or deteriorated roadways and it expands, that's what causes a pothole. Obviously this winter, we've had some weather that has really contributed to that," Bolden said.
The wet weather also has prevented the city's crews from repairing the potholes. Curp said that dry weather is necessary for crews to apply the temporary cold patches that would be followed in warmer weather with permanent hot asphalt. Pureval added that hot asphalt largely isn't available yet, as "pothole season" typically occurs later in the year.
"The pothole season came very early here in Cincinnati," Pureval said.
Meteorologists from the National Weather Service in Wilmington predict that this week's rain will continue through Thursday and Friday
, with areas experiencing freezing rain and slick conditions. Drier conditions are expected over the weekend.
Pureval, Curp and Bolden said that the city will increase the number of crew members on pothole duty this weekend if the precipitation stays away as predicted, implementing mandatory overtime when extra shifts aren't filled voluntarily. Bolden said that crews of 20 typically work in eight-hour shifts, addressing service requests as they come in. The same crews that plow Cincinnati's streets during snow storms also are handle the pothole requests, he said.
The goal for now, Bolden said, is just to make travel safer for Cincinnati residents whose cars are routinely dropping into the open potholes.
Cincinnati City Council member Greg Landsman said that the council has agreed to prioritize funding for public safety and public services.
"Whatever resources the administration needs to get these potholes filled as quickly as possible, they'll have," Landsman said.
Cincinnati residents can report potholes by calling (513) 591-6000, visiting 5916000.com
or downloading the Fix It Cincy app
Greater Cincinnati's last big bout of icy precipitation happened Feb. 2-4, when Winter Storm Landon dropped several inches of snow, many energy customers were without electricity
and most of Cincinnati shut down to deal with icy conditions
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