Ever since the 2008 recession, the city of Philadelphia has experienced a variety of financial issues. From 2011 to 2015, over 900 miles of roads in Philadelphia needed repaving, but the city could only afford to repave 135 miles. Mayor Jim Kenney just submitted a proposal that would raise the City Streets Department repaving budget by $174 million over the next six years. Right now, the City Streets Department is trying to operate on a budget of $21 million, which is woefully inadequate.

Roads Need To Be Repaved Because Of PotholesAsphalt road cracking

The reason the budgets need to be increased for the City Streets Department is due to the desperate need for the city to win the war against potholes. Roads riddled with potholes pose a real threat to pedestrians and cyclists who can trip and fall in them. Additionally, bad roads cost the American business community approximately $240 billion per year, and Philadelphia’s roads are definitely bad for business.

The pace the Streets Department needs to keep each year to maintain the roads is 131 miles per roads repaved every year. But with some years clocking in at numbers as low as 22 miles for the entire year, the situation was bound to come to a head. The city has decided that 2017 will be the year it will tackle these long overdue potholes and clean up the streets.

What Causes Them To Appear?

During the winter, water seeps down into asphalt roads as snow melts, and then that water freezes when the weather gets cold. Water expands when it freezes, which means that the Philadelphia streets spend all winter being weakened by freezing water. The condition of the roads gets even worse when the hot and humid summers add to the damage caused by the winters.

Over time, this weakening of the road results in a complete collapse of the asphalt and its foundation. That collapse is what is called a pothole. Contrary to popular belief, plowing roads does not create potholes. However, plows can definitely make the situation worse by widening potholes and making them deeper.

Pothole Dangers

Aside from making it difficult for city businesses to operate, streets filled with potholes are also dangerous for citizens. Motorists, bicyclists, walkers, skateboarders, and people of all types are in constant danger from the growing number of potholes. The city of Philadelphia has a record of filling in approximately 20 percent of all reported potholes within four to 49 days, but 99 percent of all potholes recorded get filled within 100 days. That means that the reported potholes could be sitting open for months before they are filled, and that means big problems for Philadelphia residents.

Potholes can cause:

  • Trip and fall Injuries to pedestrians and anyone else using the streets
  • A drop in business revenue
  • Slowed traffic
  • An inability for delivery and emergency vehicles to efficiently get around the city
  • Significant car damage

The best way to fix potholes is to repave the roads every 15 years, and that explains the increase in the repaving budget. The city would like to go from one to three fully functional repaving crews by the end of the year and get back to its 131 miles per year pace. But in the meantime, the residents of Philadelphia still have to navigate their way around the potholes.

What Should You Do To Protect Yourself?Under construction sign

Whenever you see a pothole anywhere in Philadelphia, call the City Streets Department immediately to report it. The city is considered responsible for any damage created by a pothole that has been reported, but the city can also contend that it is doing everything it can to fill in that pothole. With the majority of potholes taking anywhere from 50 to 100 days to get filled, you will need to be aware of bigger potholes for a while.

If you are injured due to a reported pothole, you should waste no time in contacting an attorney to help file your case. The statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim against the city of Philadelphia is two years, but that window can be much tighter when a city property is involved.

The practical solution is to be aware of potholes as you navigate around the city and plan alternate routes away from potholes whenever possible. Be careful when crossing the street as a pedestrian, or riding a bicycle on city streets. The issue of responsibility for a personal injury caused by a pothole is always a sticky one, so it is best to be vigilant and stay safe at all times.