Nearly 600 potholes reported to SDOT last week in wake of frigid weather

Jan 16, 2022, 7:35 AM
A pothole in Seattle. (SDOT)

Frigid temperatures had the Seattle Department of Transportation working to fill hundreds of potholes across the city in early January.

Wet weather, potholes in Washington make grocery deliveries challenging

SDOT received reports of new potholes in almost 600 locations across the city last week, nearly six times the average of what it saw in any given week last winter. Because of that uptick, the department warns that response efforts “may take longer than usual,” especially as it also has crews working on “storm-related clean-up activities.”

“The crew members who fill potholes are the same people who work day and night on storm response activities like driving snow plows, shoveling snow, and responding to landslides and flooding,” SDOT described in a recent blog post. “When we’re faced with multiple challenges, we prioritize our work to promote public safety. This means filling the most hazardous potholes first, while also responding to a variety of other ongoing winter road hazards.”

Potholes typically occur more in winter months due to the way colder temperatures will freeze water in pavement cracks, which then expands, cutting the pavement and forcing the cracks apart.

“This erodes the streets and sidewalks from the inside out,” SDOT said, noting that “new road damage can continue to appear for days or even weeks after a storm passes.” That’s further exacerbated by trucks and buses driving over the already-cracked roads, which loosens and expands potholes even more.

Repairs are also not always a permanent fix.

Seattle delivers on street resurfacing projects after pandemic delay

“Repairs that we make during the winter don’t always last because the rain keeps coming, and asphalt can’t bind to the surrounding pavement,” SDOT said. “So, many of the potholes we fill today may need to be repaired again over the next few months until the weather becomes warmer.”

The best way to prevent potholes from ever occurring in the first place is to repave and resurface roads. Since 2016, SDOT has done just that for roughly 163 miles of Seattle roads, spanning Green Lake, Delridge, Ballard, and South Seattle.


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Nearly 600 potholes reported to SDOT last week in wake of frigid weather