It’s paving season with a vengeance.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that they have repaired more than 85,000 potholes citywide and approximately 20,500 in Queens since January 1 and will continue their battle against winter weary roads.

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has allocated an additional $2 million to pay for 30 repair crews to work 20 extended weekdays and 40 crews to work 10 weekend days over the remainder of pothole-filling season which lasts from December through April. These extended working hours will mean an additional 40,000 pothole repairs and approximately 30,000 square yards of strip paving, which is targeted paving work at locations that need more than a simple pothole repair.

The citywide figure represents a 50 percent increase from 2010, due mostly to the cyclical snowstorms that plagued the northeast this winter.

“Winter has not let up this year and neither have our roadway repair efforts,” said commissioner Sadik-Khan, who says she will be focusing on making the streets safe to keep New York’s economy moving.

Potholes are formed primarily due to the infiltration of water into pavement through surface cracks and generally occur due to the freezing and thawing of pavement. Cold weather causes the water to freeze, creating a bulge in the pavement. When the temperature warms above freezing, the pavement surface then returns to its original level.

The process repeats itself during subsequent freeze-thaw cycles when potholes can become worse and more numerous. Heavy traffic also contributes to the creation of new potholes and the worsening of existing ones.

According to the DOT, December through April is considered “paving season,” a time to assess damage to city streets and repair them with asphaltic cement, which is poured into the pothole followed by a mixture of hot asphalt. This material is compacted by a machine and the hole is again sealed with the asphaltic cement to prevent water from penetrating the hole. Once this process is complete, the street is ready for traffic.

The DOT urges motorists to call 3-1-1 to report any pothole related issues on city streets. Since crews will be periodically repairing roads, be on the lookout and pay special attention to maintenance and construction work zones for workers’ safety.

If your vehicle is damaged by a pothole, you can file a claim by visiting the City Comptroller’s web site at www.comptroller.nyc.gov or by calling 212-669-3500. For pothole updates complete with pictures and a daily tally of how many repairs have been made, visit www.thedailypothole.tumblr.com; a publication of the DOT.

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