Queens streets have gone to pot.
Potholes on three major arteries serving Queens cost the city tens of millions of dollars in accident claims over the last six years, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
In a “ClaimStat alert” he issued on Thursday, Stringer said the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, along with the Grand Central and Belt parkways, accounted for a combined 1,561 claims between the 2010 and 2015 fiscal years, leading all other roadways in the five boroughs.
Back in February, the Department of Transportation (DOT) reported that Queens had the most potholes in the entire city.
The Belt Parkway, in particular, proved to resemble Swiss cheese more than a street, as the report pointed out that it “had the most pothole claims in four of the six years examined…making it by far the most pot-holed roadway in the city.”
Damages to vehicles that hit potholes on streets citywide cost taxpayers nearly $1.5 million in claims the city settled with drivers over the six-year period, Stringer noted. An additional 2,681 personal injury claims resulting from potholes and pedestrian falls on defective roadways were settled for $136.3 million during the same period.
The comptroller indicated that the alert gives the DOT a “road map” for making proper repairs well in advance of the winter weather that precipitates the creation of potholes.
“Potholes are serious trouble,” Stringer said in a statement. “They deflate tires, break axles and twist ankles, often at a significant financial cost to the city.”
According to the report, the common settlement for pothole damages to vehicles was $500, with 76 percent of all settlements amounting to $1,000 or less. Queens had a total of 3,590 pothole claims on its streets.
For personal injury claims related to slips, trips and falls on defective roadways, the city paid an average of between $2 and $9 million, with a plurality of them (48 percent) costing $5,000 or less. Only 211 settlements during the period were of $100,000 or greater.
Not surprisingly, pothole and personal injury claims related to defective streets spiked in years when winter weather wreaked havoc on New York City. Higher claims were also reported in areas of the city where the majority of households own a car, including much of eastern and southwest Queens. Sixty-four percent of Queens households, in total, have at least one vehicle.
As with the most recent winter, the DOT went on a “pothole blitz” across the five boroughs whenever the weather was fair enough to allow for emergency street repairs. The city is also experimenting with a different asphalt formula containing rubber which it hopes will prove more durable.
Stringer’s report, however, suggested that the DOT should consider whether some streets particularly prone to potholes should be completely reconstructed. It also called on the city to re-examine its road resurfacing procedures to make sure the best practices are followed.