By Sarina Trangle
With help from Department of Transportation staff, Mayor Bill de Blasio swept debris out of a pothole, shoveled in asphalt and pounded in the filling on a Maspeth street corner Thursday morning.
The mayor tried his hand at roadway repair work before unveiling a street maintenance plan with DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
De Blasio said more snow has fallen in the first two months of this calendar year than ever before in the city’s history. Plows, salt, tire chains and the freezing and thawing of snow and ice has riddled the roads with potholes, which de Blasio said merits a blitz on the roadway nuisances.
The mayor said DOT crews have been working diligently and filled 113,131 potholes citywide and nearly 27,000 in Queens – more than double the number plugged by mid-February in the prior two years.
“Every day has been unpredictable. What has been absolutely predictable, however, is they have to go to work and they have to fill the potholes,” de Blasio said. “They’ve been doing it on a schedule we’ve never seen before.”
The city has added $7.3 million to the DOT budget to facilitate the maintenance work. Trottenberg said 50 DOT crews would be assigned to fill potholes in all five boroughs every weekend and the agency’s roughly 30 daily pothole teams would sustain their workload of using six tons of material, which is double the typical workload.
Trottenberg said DOT crews would repave about 90,000 square-yards of particularly beat-up streets, including portions of the Belt Parkway, 159th Avenue between 79th and 80th streets and a stretch of Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways.
The commissioner said her team has been collaborating with the state to craft maintenance plans for highways and freeways owned by both governments.
DOT staff are slated to receive digital tablets synched with an improved dispatching and routing system. Trottenberg said that DOT learns about potholes mostly from 311 complaints and tries to respond to each crater within two days.
“I will admit that the complaints are coming in very fast,” Trottenberg said. “But we are not resting easy.”
The department’s research has led to a new warm weather asphalt mix, which the city said would require less heat to install and reduce DOT’s emissions.
The city also plans to host an engineering competition to solicit ideas that could improve DOT’s materials or operations.
A few neighbors watched as the mayor filled his first pothole on the corner of 60th Avenue and 69th Lane.
Kathy Liguori said she did not remember seeing prior mayors in the area.
“It’s not that bad here,” Liguori said of potholes on her block. “It’s bad on the expressway. These things happen. What are you going to do? It’s the weather.”
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.