Mayor announces second pothole patching 'blitz'

The horrific condition of Pittsburgh’s streets has caused Mayor Bill Peduto to announce “Pothole Blitz 2,” a second concerted effort to temporarily patch crumbling pavement.

The blitz, which will put 30 crews out at various times of the day and night, began at 10 p.m. Tuesday, the mayor said Wednesday. It will continue until the next snowfall forces the city to refocus on plowing and treating the streets.

Mr. Peduto urged residents to report potholes to the city’s 311 hot line and website or on Twitter to @pgh311. But in truth, public works crews will have no problem finding them because they are virtually everywhere.

Mayor, councilwoman say patching potholes is a priority

Mayor Bill Peduto and Councilwoman Deborah Gross were in Lawrenceville today to talk about the city's efforts to combat potholes. (Video by Bob Donaldson; 2/19/2014)

Within three miles of 43rd and Butler streets in Lawrenceville, where the mayor announced the blitz, portions of Stanton, Negley and Penn avenues and 40th Street resemble moonscapes, with drivers gingerly easing their vehicles through potholes that are too enormous to dodge.

Negley Run Boulevard in Larimer has deteriorated so much “it’s past the point of being able to be patched,” Mr. Peduto said. It will be closed on Monday so crews can mill off the crumbled asphalt, and vehicles will travel on the concrete base until it is repaved in late March or early April.

Councilwoman Deborah Gross, whose district includes Lawrenceville, said, “Some of the routes that I’ve driven in my district are basically impassable. And they’re the worst I’ve seen them in 12 to 15 years.”

Mr. Peduto said cold-mix asphalt would again be used for this blitz because private plants have not yet started production of hot asphalt. He harbors no illusions about the durability of the cold mixture.

“Not long. We patched them. We saw them fall apart during the thaw and freeze. We’re going to patch them again. We’re going to see them fall apart during the thaw and freeze, and then we’ll be into the street paving season,” he said.

The city’s financial problems have limited the number of miles of roads the city has been able to pave in recent years, contributing to the problem. Older pavement is more easily penetrated by moisture, the first step in the evolution of potholes.

Asked if he has a goal for paving this year, Mr. Peduto said, “Yes. Unfortunately we don’t have a budget to do it.” He said he wants to set up a pavement management system that will lead to smarter decisions on what to repave.

Public Works Director Mike Gable said he expected a 40- to 50-mile paving program this year, similar in size to what’s been done in recent years but only about half of what would be required to keep the road system in good repair.

Mr. Peduto said the goal of the current blitz is to address every pothole complaint within a four- to five-day span. “It may snow again. We don’t know. This is the first break we’ve had since the last pothole blitz at the very beginning of January.”

He said with the abundance of crews out patching the next few days, traffic delays are likely. “I’d ask people to take extreme caution and let the workers do their job,” he said.

Ms. Gross said she wanted to thank crews for the work they’ve done so far. “We all know how hard this winter’s been just in spirit,” she said. “Think about actually being on the trucks, clearing the roads and clearing the ice.”

Jon Schmitz: or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at Twitter: @pgtraffic. First Published February 19, 2014 3:19 PM

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