Potholes are making an early appearance (and sometimes thriving)

State, county, city have hotlines

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They're back.

The roller-coaster weather has brought an earlier-than-normal start to the pothole season, with 50-degree temperature swings that have turned some roads into moonscapes.

On a driving tour last week, we dodged craters on Brookline Boulevard, Route 51 in the city's southern neighborhoods, Bausman Street in Beltzhoover, and South 18th Street and East Carson Street on the South Side, where we narrowly missed a monster near 21st Street.

Axles and tires intact, we continued, finding more holes on the Birmingham Bridge, Forbes Avenue in Oakland, Hobart and Beacon streets and Forward Avenue in Squirrel Hill, and Fifth Avenue in Point Breeze.

(Click image for larger version)

Roads outside the city in Oakmont, Verona, Millvale and Bethel Park seemed to be in better shape.

Fortunately, drivers can do more than swear about the situation. The state, Allegheny County and city of Pittsburgh all maintain pothole-reporting hotlines and/or Web-based systems.

For state roads, the number to call is 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623). Callers are connected to the maintenance office for their county, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation promises prompt action and a follow-up if the caller leaves a phone number.

Potholes also can be reported online by visiting the appropriate PennDOT district website and clicking on the Customer Care Center icon in the top right corner of the home page. District 11 comprises Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties; District 10 is Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana and Jefferson counties; District 12 is Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland.

Conditions that pose an immediate safety risk should be reported by phone rather than online.

Detail is important. Bad: "The pothole is down the road from where Isaly's used to be." Better: "The pothole is in the eastbound lane of East Carson Street, a few feet beyond 21st Street."

Other problems, including road obstructions, roadkill, signage and drainage issues, can be reported using the same phone number or website.

Potholes on Allegheny County-maintained roads can be reported to the Public Works Department call center, 412-350-2513.

In the city of Pittsburgh, problems can be reported to the mayor's 311 hotline or online at pittsburghpa.gov/311/form. Calls to 311 are answered by live operators from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Nonresidents who want to call from outside the city limits to tattle on a pothole can call 412-255-2621.

Not sure who owns the road? PennDOT forwards all information it receives about conditions on nonstate roads to the appropriate jurisdiction.

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic.

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