The pungent scent of hot asphalt is something that Brooklynites probably ought to get used to.
According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn has the largest number of reported potholes of any borough, and the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has just kicked off their annual pothole filling campaign, selecting the intersection of Avenue Z and Jerome Avenue in Sheepshead Bay to make the announcement. There, Bloomberg filled a waiting pothole with the help of DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Beforehand, Bloomberg noted wryly that the sight would “probably be the highlight of the New Year, but it’s a young year.”
The location was not coincidental. The Community Board 15 catchment area -- which includes Sheepshead Bay as well as Manhattan Beach, Kings Bay, Gerritsen Beach, Kings Highway, East Gravesend, Madison, Homecrest, and Plum Beach -- has had the highest number of reported potholes of any area of Brooklyn, Bloomberg said.
Timing was also not a coincidence. The onset of winter weather -- snowstorms, plummeting temperatures and freezes that are succeeded by thawing -- has a great deal to do with the formation of potholes in the first place. “The best defense against potholes,” noted Bloomberg, “is not having much snow. I’m happy to take credit for our overall strong record in snow prevention in the past several years.”
Snow prevention notwithstanding, the city streets are quickly pocked by potholes once frigid weather sets in, the reason for the blitz campaign now underway. In the past five weeks, Bloomberg said, almost 21,000 potholes in the five boroughs have been filled. “Throughout the winter months,” he remarked, “there will be up to 40 crews working each day to fill the potholes that form in our more than 6,000 miles of streets and roadways.”
If you see a pothole, Bloomberg stressed, call the location in to 311. Between residents’ calls and municipal workers “Going out and looking proactively for problems,” the city learns about potholes and fills them, the mayor explained. While, he added, in 2002, about a third of the city’s potholes were filled “within one month of being reported,” a full two-thirds are now filled within three days. “The bottom line is if you see a pothole, call 311, and if it isn’t fixed, call again in a week,” the mayor stressed.
Timing is key. “It’s important to get them when they’re fresh,” emphasized Sadik-Khan. “Given the cold streak, we are upping our game and doing more. We are doing everything to make the streets smoother and safer. Potholes are not only a cosmetic but also a real safety issue.”
The city’s pothole filling program meshes with the sustainability goals “of reducing pollution and shrinking our carbon footprint” announced in PlaNYC 2030, Bloomberg added. Approximately 40 percent of the asphalt dug up when streets are repaved is recycled, in a DOT facility in Brooklyn. According to material provided by the mayor’s office, by using recycled asphalt, “174,000 tons of paving material was diverted from landfills in one year, and 840,000 barrels of oil were saved. Additionally, an estimated 320,000 miles of truck travel were saved each year by recycling the paving material.”
New York City leads the nation in the use of recycled asphalt, Bloomberg pointed out.