The hole truth and nothing but the truth

City seeks residents’ help in identifying potholes

They’re b-a-c-k. Those nasty little holes that make your car go bump in the night, and in the daytime.
Following a 20-plus inch snowfall on Jan. 23 and a couple of milder storms before and after, potholes are making a comeback. The city is asking the public’s help in identifying where the potholes are, so it can dispatch the Public Works Department to fill them.
The combination of snow, salt, cold weather, and sudden warmth combine to create the potholes, according to Public Works Director Gary Chmielewski.
“The worst thing for the road is the cold and the heat,” he said. “It’s almost like water pipes. Pipes freeze and then thaw. Then they start popping.”
Late last month, the city’s pothole hotline, (201) 858-6070, was opened again. The city’s first pothole was filled about three weeks earlier.
They are taken care of on an as-needed, as-reported basis, city spokesman Joseph Ryan said.


“I want residents to call us. We don’t know every pothole throughout the city. So when the residents call us, thank you.” – Gary Chmielewski

Since the weather varies, the impact on the pavement varies. This winter has not been as bad on roadways as most recent winters.
“This year we’ve really only had two storms and a lot of flurries. Normally we would have 10 snowstorms by now — and with accumulation,” Chmielewski said. “The mild weather had an effect; it didn’t snow as much. The weather wasn’t cold.”
Last year, the city filled 718 potholes in January and February. In January and February 2014, the figure was 921. In January and February 2013, it was 291.
In contrast, DPW workers filled only 96 between Jan. 1 and Feb. 18 of this year.
“This winter has been a better one for potholes,” Chmielewski said. “It’s a combination of paving a lot of streets last year, not having the cold weather with the ice and the wind and freezing, and not using as much salt.”
The city did salting operations only three times so far this winter.

Residents are eyes and ears

DPW workers fill any potholes they see while out in the field. But about half the potholes are identified through phone calls, according to Chmielewski.
“That’s what we want,” he said. We don’t know every pothole throughout the city. So when the residents call us, thank you.”
Usually DPW staff will fill potholes within 24 hours after a call; a little longer if the weather is bad.
There were only about 20 calls by mid-February. According to Chmielewski, potholes are filled all year, weather permitting.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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