SDOT filled 25,000 potholes in 2023, most in five years

Jan 31, 2024, 2:59 PM

seattle potholes...

SDOT crew members work to fill potholes in southeast Seattle. (Photo courtesy of SDOT)

(Photo courtesy of SDOT)

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) filled 25,000 potholes in Seattle last year — the most the department has repaired in five years.

SDOT claimed they typically see between 15,000 and 25,000 potholes annually throughout Seattle with a spike during the winter months.

“The reason why the winters are especially tough is when water gets down to the pavement and then freezes that water actually expands when it turns into ice so the ice will force the pavement apart,” SDOT Spokesperson Ethan Bergersen told KIRO Newsradio.

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With Seattle’s weather comes potholes. In 2017, SDOT filled more than 35,000 potholes, the most since 2011. The average amount of potholes the city has seen between 2011-2023 is 20,650. Last year’s 25,000 was tied for the third most filled in that stretch.

“Weather is a big factor in the variation from year to year,” Bergersen added. “Last year’s number was high because of the freezing rain and because our crews spent the time to patrol major roads looking for potholes.”

As heavy vehicles drive over damaged pavement after a storm, new potholes can keep showing up months later.

“Repairs we make in the winter don’t last forever because asphalt does not bind to the surrounding pavement as well during cold weather,” SDOT wrote. “So potholes we fill today might come back and need to be fixed again in the future.”

Bergersen stressed that the department can’t fix potholes if SDOT doesn’t know about them. The public can call (206) 684-ROAD to report them, or use the city’s “Find It, Fix It” smartphone app to identify potholes and other issues — including lost pets, dead animals, graffiti, needles, public litter or dumping, overgrown vegetation and more. For potholes specifically, Seattle’s “Pothole Rangers” are subsequently sent to the location and fix it within three days.

In comparison, Baltimore just announced that it just filled 92,384 potholes last year, but Bergersen stated it’s very hard to compare one city’s situation to another.

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“It’s difficult to make apples-to-apples comparisons because every city has a different number of roads under their jurisdiction,” Bergersen said. “Even if a city has a similar population or land area, their roads may not cover the same land area because they aren’t concentrated in the same way or have different numbers of lanes.”

For a map of all the potholes that have been filled over the last 90 days, click here. For a map of potholes currently on SDOT’s to-do list, click here.

You can read more of Nate Connors’ stories here. Follow Nate on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and the KIRO Newsradio traffic team here for more traffic updates.

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SDOT filled 25,000 potholes in 2023, most in five years