WASHINGTON — It’s a sure sign of spring: potholes threaten to take over the region’s roads, and agencies swing into action to fill them. But this year has seen some of the worst and most ubiquitous potholes, which have sucked the budgets to repair them dry.
A District Department of Transportation spokesperson says that its annual “Potholepalooza” starts April 9. DDOT has already filled 19,000 potholes since January — a 562 percent increase over the same period last year.
In Virginia, the Virginia Department of Transportation estimates it will fill 5,000 potholes, spending more than $1 million to do it.
Meanwhile, the Maryland State Highway Administration says it will spend more than $2.5 million on filling potholes. In Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, road crews are filling 50 to 80 potholes a day.
About 1,000 potholes are being repaired every single day across the state of Maryland, says David Buck, media relations manager for Maryland State Highway.
AAA spokesman Lon Anderson says that the repair industry and drivers are both feeling the increase in potholes this year.
“Our road service reports that tire-related repair calls are up 50 percent right now from last year and that’s primarily because people are hitting potholes and getting flats and blowouts and then they call AAA,” Anderson says. “That’s just the surface.”
He says a report shows that there will be more than $6.4 billion in auto repairs this year just from pothole damage.
And the repairs don’t come cheap. Drivers could spend up to $2,500 to repair vehicles damaged by potholes, Anderson says.
Buck says this is one of the worst years for potholes he has seen. It has been a never-ending battle with potholes for Maryland, he adds.
“We can’t get two, three good days together so that we can fill these potholes and try to start getting ahead of these things,” Buck says.
“You fill one and then you get rain, and then you get the ice, and then you get the snow, which never seems to stop, and then the same pothole has to get filled repeatedly.”
Despite Maryland’s “high-tech” and durable pavement, it is no match for the unpredictable weather, Buck says. Resurfaced roads usually last about a decade, but Maryland roads have to adjust to high volumes of traffic coupled with pavement temperatures that can range from below zero to more than 100 degrees in the summer.
“No other state, no other region has to deal with that other than us,” he says.
Anderson has some tips for drivers when they come across potholes,
Be cautious when driving. Watching for potholes and avoid them when you can.
Don’t lock up your tires when driving over a pothole. Roll through the pothole because it puts less pressure on the tire.
Pay attention to drivers around you. Other drivers may stop suddenly or swerve to avoid potholes.