The once in a half-century #snOMG mega-storm system (for Seattle 😉) has come and gone – and unfortunately, so have parts of our roads. DOH! The storms dropped over 20 inches of snow on Seattle making this February the snowiest month in 50 years. This caused substantial damage to our roadways and led to a myriad of new potholes forming around the city.
The storms not only set records but set Seattle up for a literal rough road ahead which will take several months for us to repair even as we work extra hard.
Tackling nature’s cause and effect
Snow and ice cause lasting damage to our roadways as water finds its way into cracks in the pavement. The recent series of storms were particularly damaging as temperatures rose above and fell below freezing several times allowing ice to repeatedly thaw and freeze. Each time trapped water freezes, it expands and forces apart larger fissures in the roadway. When heavy vehicles like trucks and buses drive over these fissures, pieces of pavement break loose and form larger holes.
We received more than the usual number of requests to fill potholes, and so last week we sent out double our number of maintenance crews and worked through the weekend filling about 1,100 potholes. We’ve prioritized filling the most hazardous potholes on roads used by the most vehicles before they get worse – but there’s a lot more work ahead of us.
To put this into context:
Last year people reported an average of 100 potholes to us each week. Our maintenance crews filled 95% of these potholes within three businesses days, and also filled another 20,000 potholes before they were reported to us.
But this year will be a much larger challenge, so we need people to understand that we’re still working hard even though it will take us longer than usual to respond to all the requests.
More winter weather brings challenges.
The weather continues to pose big challenges even when it’s not snowing. Repairs that we make in weather like this don’t always last because the asphalt won’t bind as well to the surrounding pavement when it’s too cold or wet. So many of the potholes we fill today will likely need to be repaired again in a few months when the weather is warmer.
Future storms could also cause more damage and slow our work further. If more freezing weather comes our way, maintenance crews will need to shift their focus from potholes to preparing the roads for more snow and ice.
We’re still working incredibly hard to respond to a large number of storm-related issues and prioritizing our work based on public safety.
Report a pothole.
Check our progress as we continue to repair our roads on our interactive pothole repair status map.