FROM THE EDITOR
February was the kind of month that is hard on the streets of Portland. Snow, driving on snow, treating snow to avoid accidents – all of them contribute to the formation of potholes.
Indeed, you may recall, a couple of years back we experienced an unusual proliferation of potholes after the worst of the winter – even S.E. 82nd, a State Highway, drove like a dirt country road for a while. The city even contracted with outside vendors specifically to fix potholes after that, as we reported in THE BEE at the time.
There is a defect in the street in front of THE BEE that has long gotten our attention; although it gradually is taking off the surface, a glance at the Portland Pothole webpage reveals that it is probably a delamination, instead. Years ago, the city filled it, and now it's back. Not a hazard yet, but worth keeping an eye on.
But what prompted this essay was a question from a reader, who reported that PBOT had been installing handicap-access curb-cuts near Lewis Elementary School in Woodstock, but had ignored the "potholes" that in some cases were just a couple of feet away. The reader wanted to know why the potholes were not fixed at the same time. "They could just have dumped some asphalt in them."
The answer is probably simple: PBOT has a special team and system for pothole repair, and it is not the same team that puts in curb-cuts. It is not their job! On the other hand, one might ask why these workers did not at least report this damage, so another team could come out and fix them. It is possible that is also not their job, though it certainly would have been a thoughtful thing to do.
When we covered that major pothole repair outreach a couple of years ago, we learned a couple of things. One is that that shovelful of asphalt would not have done the job; if a pothole is to last it must be dug out and the road bed levels repaired even with the rest of the road, so that drivers will not just spin the filler material back up out of the hole.
The other thing we learned is that the city usually does not repair a pothole unless somebody reports it. So, if you've been stewing over a bad pothole on your street and wondering why nobody comes to fix it, maybe you should try reporting it!
PBOT – the Portland Bureau of Transportation – does have a special system and team for reporting and fixing potholes – and also delaminations and sinkholes and poorly-paved utility excavations, too. All can be reported the same way: Call 503/823-1700.
When you call, the city promises that somebody will be out to check it within a week, validate the report, and make plans to get the team out there to fix it. They expect that to happen within about a month.
But be aware that one of those validations is to make sure the street is the city's responsibility! If it's in the city, and the city paved it, it usually is. But, "private streets and undeveloped streets within the city limits are maintained by property owners. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) also maintains streets within the city limits that are state highways" – which includes such streets as 82nd Avenue, Powell Boulevard, and McLoughlin Boulevard.
As you learned in last month's BEE, the city is just now undertaking to resurface undeveloped (dirt and gravel) streets within the city limits on a two-year or more rotation, but unless they've recently done so they might not respond to a pothole problem reported on such a street. There are over sixty miles of such unpaved streets in the Rose City.