Ice puts dent in Oklahoma City commute

BY PAUL MONIES Modified: February 9, 2009 at 11:20 am •  Published: February 8, 2009
The ice may be gone, but it left behind the curse of drivers everywhere — more potholes.

"Water’s the enemy,” said Tim Ishmael, unit operations supervisor for Oklahoma City’s Street Maintenance division. "The freeze-thaw cycle causes most of these potholes out there now.”

Ishmael estimates about 8,000 potholes a month are patched along the 13,000 lane miles in Oklahoma City.

It’s not just nature. Other factors, such as water line ruptures, heavy traffic and sometimes shoddy contractor repairs can contribute to pothole formation. The city’s performance goal is to handle 80 percent of pothole repair requests within three working days.

"We just line up those work orders on the clipboards,” Ishmael said. "It’s a logistical ordeal. Some roads are so bad we’ll have to send more trucks and people to make the three-day goal.”

Just a portion of the repair requests come from the city’s Action Center or pothole hot line. Most come from other agencies or departments.

The periods following ice or heavy rains tend to bring out the most potholes, but the city’s 13 pothole patch trucks stay busy year-round, Ishmael said.

On the streets
Last week, supervisor Bill Webb, crew chief Michael "Speedy” Windham and James Stewart picked up work orders and started their day with a trip to the city’s River Yard at 900 S Santa Fe to pick up some cold-lay asphalt.

The typical pothole takes less than 15 minutes to fix. Webb parks his pickup about 20 yards behind the asphalt truck, setting up a makeshift work zone with cones.

Pothole damage claims

Drivers claiming potholes damaged their vehicles have a high bar to pass in Oklahoma in order to get paid. Generally, officials said, drivers have to provide sufficient evidence that the city, county or state knew about the pothole for a period of time and didn’t take steps to repair it. Most of the legal protections come from the Government Tort Claims Act.

Sources: City of Oklahoma City Municipal Counselor;

state Transportation Department

To report or complain
→To make a complaint in Oklahoma City, call 631-1111 or *OKC on your cell phone.

→To report potholes on state highways in the Oklahoma City metro area, call 231-4DOT or *55 on your cell phone.

Search pothole complaints made in 2008

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