By Connor Adams Sheets
Queens roads are in the worst shape in the city, according to a new study by city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Of more than 80,000 calls to 311 this year requesting road repairs, more than 22,000 were about Queens streets, the report found.
The city has witnessed a 56 percent increase in pothole complaints since 2006, and the city has been ineffective in adapting to the surge, according to de Blasio.
His analysis showed that repair requests are regularly dropped as they are passed between various city agencies, forcing complainers to call again and wasting time and city tax dollars for required re-inspection of the roads before the repairs can be made.
Under existing procedures, when 311 gets a complaint about a pothole, it forwards it to the city Department of Transportation, which dispatches a paid inspector. But if the DOT rules that the damage was due to a “sinkhole” rather than a “pothole,” the agency often drops the case without resolution — and only if the complainer calls 311 again to check on the status of the repair will he or she be told that the case was dropped because sinkholes are handled by the city Department of Environmental Protection.
The caller then has to open another case, which 311 sends to the DEP, which performs a redundant second inspection before making a repair.
The agency shuffling can take weeks.
De Blasio recommended in the report that the city streamline the road repair process in order to better manage the more than 100,000 annual pothole complaints. He said complaints and inspection reports should automatically be forwarded to the proper department whenever an agency finds a street repair it is not assigned to handle.
“This is a classic example of one hand of government not working with the other,” de Blasio said in a statement. “This bureaucracy is wasting taxpayer dollars. Agencies should forward these requests and inspection reports automatically and immediately respond to each other to get repairs made as quickly as possible.”
Not fixing potholes also costs the city many thousands of dollars each year in claims by drivers whose cars are damaged by bad roads.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.