Rain, though welcomed by farmers, is no friend of asphalt. And this winter, with so much rain falling, roadways in the Fresno metro area have taken a beating.
Last year, 303 potholes were reported to Fresno City Hall from Jan. 4 through the end of February. This year, for the same period, it’s up to 743.
Clovis is reporting a similar explosion of bad pavement (although road officials there count it differently than Fresno). Last year, a crew of two working three days a week was patching typically 90 holes a week in the first couple of months. This year, it’s taking a crew of five working four days a week to patch about 400 potholes a week.
“These rains have just been pounding the asphalt,” said Scott Redelfs, Clovis’ assistant public utilities director.
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Water is asphalt’s worst enemy.
Randy Ishii, Fresno County roads division manager
Randy Ishii, division manager for Fresno County’s road division, agrees. The county has seen its pothole complaints double this winter, to 200. And that doesn’t reflect the work of county road crews, which have been filling what they find – and they’re finding a lot, he says. “Water is asphalt’s worst enemy.”
Despite the profusion of pockmarked pavement, Fresno is filling its holes within 2 to 2 1/2 days, city spokesman Mark Standriff said. And it’s keeping up with new potholes with the help of the public and the city’s smartphone app, FresGo (available for iPhone and Android), which allows people to report the pothole (and even take a photo) and provides GPS coordinates. Clovis has a similar app (like Fresno’s, it’s available for iPhone and Android).
“This gives residents a chance to set up their own service request,” Standriff said.
Those GPS coordinates allow city crews to map the potholes, and identify areas that are particularly problematic, Standriff said. No part of the city is immune, it seems.
Older neighborhoods and newer ones have a thicket of pothole service requests, according to Fresno’s map. And the likelihood is for more rain at least through March, the last month for any significant chance of precipitation. More than a quarter-inch of rain fell in Fresno on Sunday.
We’re blasting through the pothole budget.
Mark Standriff, city of Fresno
In Clovis, storm forecasts send city crews patrolling for emerging potholes, in addition to responding to citizen reports of problem pavement, Redelfs said. In Fresno, Standriff said, city crews will hit streets known to be prone to potholing, even without prompting from the public.
Standriff said Fresno’s public works department prepares each year for a bad winter of rain and pavement problems.
“We budget every year for a big rain,” with money set aside for staff, fuel and asphalt, Standriff said. In dry years, when there are fewer storms, leftover money gets shifted to other needs, he said. In wet years, more money is needed.
This year, he said, “I think we’re blasting through the pothole budget.”
Douglas E. Beeman: 559-441-6171, @dbeeman
See a pothole?
Here’s where to report it:
- By phone: 559-621-2489
- On the web: fblinks.com/fpothole
- By phone: 559-324-2060
- On the web: fblinks.com/cpothole
- By phone: 800-742-1011
- On the web: fblinks.com/fcroads
- By phone: 559-713-4428
- On the web: fblinks.com/vpothole