The winter potholes have been disappearing in Southeast. Here's part of the reason why -- and why it's not happening faster

ERIC NORBERG - A crew from Just Bucket Excavating of Albany, which contracts with PDOT to repair potholes in Southeast Portland, starts filling a very large rectangular pothole on S.E. 37th between Insley and Steele, on the afternoon of June 7. When the morning dawned on eight inches of snow across Portland on January 12, under the glistening coat of white the streets were suffering damage that would soon become very clear to motorists. Potholes were everywhere, and driving on even such a major street as S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses felt like jolting down a rutty country road.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation fills potholes year 'round, but this year it was hard pressed to keep up with the need. The worst ones were rapidly and temporarily packed with asphalt, pending a proper repair as time and facilities allowed. Twelve thousand potholes had been filled as of the first of June, but easily four thousand remained to be done.

To speed up the process, PBOT put out word it wanted to hire private contractors to repair potholes – and got, surprisingly, only two bids. Both companies were hired and put to work. Concentrating on Southeast Portland is "Just Bucket Excavating, Inc." of Albany, Oregon – the other firm is working on the west side of the Willamette River.

On June 7, PBOT – and the City Commissioner who oversees it, Dan Saltzman – held a press event in the Reed neighborhood to show off the public-private partnership against potholes. The site was S.E. 37th just south of Steele Street, at Insley, and arriving press found several rectangular holes in the pavement, right down to the dirt.

It turns out that a pothole repair, done properly, requires removing the road around the pothole and repairing the surface underneath, after which asphalt is reintroduced into the square or rectangular excavation and then packed down. The process was explained by Saltzman and the Project Coordinator for Just Bucket Excavating, Don Davis. But, if you are sitting reading your BEE and wondering when they will ever get to the pothole that is bothering you, if you haven't reported it to PBOT, it's partly your fault that it hasn't been done! Turns out the city does not prowl for potholes – they work from a list, year 'round, every year, addressing potholes that have been reported to them. You can get more information, and report potholes yourself, online at: – there's even a map showing in red the reported potholes they haven't gotten to yet, and in green, the ones they've fixed – and a link to a larger, more updated, and very detailed scalable map of the same thing.

So if you need to have a pothole or incipient sinkhole repaired, now you know how to get it done.

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