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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Patching Potholes, Part 1: Problem

A month or so ago we talked about roads.  Today we talk about a lack of roads - or small gaps where roads ought to be.

We could call them missing-pieces-of-roads. But pothole is the word we normally use.

Potholes are problems. Nobody likes them. They appear everywhere, even in NASCAR's Daytona 500. The race was stopped twice last week because of potholes!



Do potholes require elementary math? YES

Two years ago my city said it was repairing 30,000 potholes a year on its 2735 miles of road.

How many potholes per mile is that? Just about 11.

Now they say the numbers are much higher. In 2009 they filled 53,046 potholes on 2800 miles of road.

How many potholes per mile is that? About 18.9. 

At a cost ranging from $15-30 pph (per pothole), that adds up. Let's do some math.

How much do the potholes cost us to fix?  $22.50 x 53,046 = $1,193,535,  or $1.2 million.

Although the city says they have 64 people dedicated to fixing potholes, they can't keep up.

How many potholes per person did they fix last year? 53,046 ÷ 64 = 829 per person

That sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

How many potholes per day is that?  It's 829 ÷ ((52 weeks x 5) - (10 days vacation + 10 holidays)) =

829 ÷ (260-20) = 829 ÷ 240 = 3.45 potholes per day per person, or 7 per day per 2-person team.

The streets division has created a web application so you can locate a pothole on a map and send its coordinates right to the patching crews. That's faster than relying on the crews to find it visually.

I must say the repairs don't seem to be evenly distributed, but then I live in an older part of town. The city says it divides the repair funds evenly among the 8 major districts of the city. If it's true that newer roads are in better condition, then newer neighborhoods can spend more to fix fewer potholes.

It's not the bad weather ruining our roads, because we have great weather. So what is it? Do we drive too hard? Do our cars and trucks weigh too much? Is the hot sun ruining the asphalt? At least we have fewer than Tijuana, which estimates its pothole population at 800,000!!