News 5 Investigates

Aug 23, 2013 7:51 PM by Eric Ross

News 5 Investigates: Unrepaired problematic potholes

Potholes are frustrating, costly, and can be found on many city streets throughout Colorado Springs.

News 5 is taking a closer look at why hundreds of them are going unrepaired for weeks and in some cases, months.

Unrepaired potholes mean big business for Rex Tire on the City's southwest side of town.

"Sometimes you can bend wheels and tires and if you hit the front one you'll probably hit the back one and damage both of them," owner Brian Cleek said.

Those repairs can cost a lot of money.

"You can sometimes see expenses top $1,000," Cleek said.

Just ask Krista Fowler. She ended up paying about $400 to replace a wheel and tire after her husband ran over a pothole at the intersection of Del Ray Drive and Montebello.

"The pothole was full of water so you couldn't see it but he felt it," Fowler said. " He hit it really hard."

After paying $400 for repairs, she filed a complaint with the City. An employee came out, took a statement and pictures and asked Krista to get an estimate. She did, only to have her claim denied.

"I was surprised because they had entertained our claim for damages and taken pictures and treated it like they were going to reimburse us for the damages and when I got the denial they had referenced the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act," Fowler said.

The City says they denied Krista's request and others because they had not had "reasonable" notice for the particular pothole in question.

"If we didn't know about the pothole before somebody hit it, the City is not going to be liable for the damage," risk manager Victoria McColm said.

The pothole eventually got patched 14 days later. Fowler would like to see that process speed up, and so would Mendy Putman, Director of the Colorado Springs Senior Center.

Take a stroll down Caramillo Street, and it doesn't take long to spot the problem.

"We've had potholes on Caramillo that have actually had people's car tires sink into them where we actually had to call the fire department to come out and lift the car out of the hole," Putman said.

Putman says bad drainage floods the streets and sent News 5 a picture showing us evidence of massive flooding there. One picture showed a car's left front tire submerged in a pothole filled with water. She says it's only a matter of time before somebody gets hurt, and is asking the City for a more permanent fix beyond pothole patched which she says is a band-aid solution.

"The drainage washes out the patch jobs because the street probably has not been resurfaced in a number of years," Putman said.

This week, we rode along with the streets department as they patched up potholes along Barnes Road in Colorado Springs. On any given day, the City can patch as many as 100 potholes and they say they're satisfied with the time it takes to complete the job.

"I think they are doing a fantastic job," streets supervisor David Scalfri said. "Obviously it would be better if we had more people and more equipment and so on and so forth but the folks we have are doing an outstanding job."

The streets department tells News 5 the prioritize pothole repair claims based on location and traffic volume.

"Pothole requests that come in for main roadways are taken at a very high priority," Scalfri explained. "They are on a as soon as possible basis. As far as residential streets and other streets like that--- they fall under a priority 2 case and we have up to two weeks to address those pothole needs."

Unfortunately, not every pothole gets repaired within a two week time period. It took more than 2 months to repair a pothole on Alexander Road. A repair claim entered for a pothole on 15th Street didn't get repaired for nearly two months, and a pothole on Cliff Point went unrepaired for more than three months.

"We sure want to get them cleaned up (repaired) well ahead of that if at all possible," Scalfri said.

In the City's defense, many potholes are repaired within that "2-week" time period. Some are even fixed the same day. In 2012, the City patched more than 28,000 potholes.

"I understand there's a lot of territory to cover," Fowler said. "I just wish they might be able to adjust their policies and procedures to get them done more quickly."

Fowler would like the City to reimburse her for the damage to her husband's car. Meanwhile, back at the Senior Service Center, all Mendy Putman wants is for the City to replace the street.

"They (the City) is very aware because we call," Putman said. "We have requested this (road replacement) several times. They have come out and patched it, and they have patched all of the holes. The issue is it doesn't stay. Eventually by next year I'll be calling them again."

If you have a problem with a street, the City wants to hear from you. You can report problematic potholes by visiting the City's website or by calling 385-6808.

You may also email the City at streetdivision@springsgov.com.

The City also has a new pothole reporting app mobile users can download by visiting www.springsgov.com/app

 

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