It’s pothole season, and the state and local governments try to make it easy to report the chasms that open up in the pavement this time of year.
The challenge is knowing which government to contact.
In North Carolina, many streets and roads inside a city or town are actually the state’s responsibility to maintain, which can lead to some buck-passing where potholes are concerned.
Sometimes the responsible party is pretty clear; you’d probably expect that a pothole on the Raleigh Beltline or Capital Boulevard, which is also U.S. 1, would be handled by the state Department of Transportation.
But elsewhere, the dividing lines can be baffling. In Raleigh, Hillsborough Street is the city’s responsibility from the State Capitol to N.C. State University’s Memorial Belltower; from the Belltower west, it’s the state’s problem. Wake Forest Road in Raleigh is all a state road, but Old Wake Forest is a city street – except the stretch from Litchford Road to Capital Boulevard, which is a state road.
“That’s probably the biggest issue we have – that imaginary line between what is city maintained and state maintained,” said Chris McGee, Raleigh’s assistant director of transportation. “By and large a lot of the complaints we get are on the NCDOT highways.”
Of the 36 potholes reported on the city’s SeeClickFix system since January, the city responded to more than half of them by saying, “This location is not maintained by the City of Raleigh,” and encouraged the resident to report it to NCDOT. McGee said city staff also report those potholes to the state.
With 1,100 miles of streets and roads to care for, the city counts on the public to let it know where potholes need fixing, McGee said. Besides SeeClickFix, you can report potholes by calling 919-996-6446 on weekdays or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The city website includes an interactive map that shows which roads are state maintained and which are the city’s responsibility.
“When you see it, even if you don’t hit it, report it,” McGee said. “You may save somebody else.”
The city has three crews working full-time filling holes and patching rough spots. They’re busier this time of year because the repeated freezing and thawing of a North Carolina winter allows water to get into cracks in the pavement and expand as ice, pushing loose chunks of asphalt. Still, McGee says the crews are able to patch more than 90 percent of reported potholes within 24 hours.
Laura DeVivo of Raleigh knew she needed to let someone know about the pothole she hit last week on northbound Capital Boulevard, just south of the Wake Forest Road exit. It was as big as a foxhole, DeVivo said, but she couldn’t swerve to avoid it.
“I saw that pothole, but traffic was not going to allow me to not hit it,” she said. “I was doomed.”
The front passenger tire somehow survived, but by the next day it had started to shred. DeVivo took it in to Discount Tire on Six Forks Road, where she learned she wasn’t that pothole’s only victim.
Ross Bradley, the assistant manager, said the shop has seen an uptick in blown tires and bent wheels from rough roads. And while he hasn’t seen it for himself, he’s had at least 10 customers report hitting a “monstrous” pothole on Capital in about the spot DeVivo described.
“I don’t drive that way, but they say there’s one there that’s been swallowing wheels,” Bradley said.
DeVivo reported her experience to neighbors on NextDoor.com, then reported the pothole to NCDOT using the department’s website, www.ncdot.gov/CONTACT/. That was Saturday. On Monday, she received an email from NCDOT telling her the pothole had been patched.
Here’s how to report a pothole where you live. Remember, public roads outside a municipality are maintained by the state.
▪ State roads, whether inside a city or town or out in the county, go to www.ncdot.gov/CONTACT/. Statewide, the state Department of Transportation says it patched nearly 11,000 potholes reported on this website last year.
▪ Apex: Call 919-249-3354 or go to www.apexnc.org/report.
▪ Cary: Call 919-469-4090 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., tweet the pothole location to @TOC_Traffic or report it online at services.townofcary.org/CommunitiesCaseManagement.
▪ Clayton: Go to www.townofclaytonnc.org/report.aspx.
▪ Fuquay-Varina: Call 919-753-1027. For more information, including an interactive map of town- and state-maintained streets, go to www.fuquay-varina.org/396/Street-Maintenance-Issues.
▪ Garner: Go to www.garnernc.gov and click on the “service requests” icon, or download the “garner info” app.
▪ Holly Springs: Call Holly Springs Public Works at 919-552-5920. For more information, including a list of state-maintained streets in town, go to www.hollyspringsnc.us/201/Pothole-Patching/.
▪ Knightdale: Go to www.knightdalenc.gov and click on the “report a problem” icon at the top of the page.
▪ Smithfield: Email Lenny Branch at email@example.com.
▪ Wake Forest: Go to www.wakeforestnc.gov/report-a-problem.aspx.
▪ Wendell: Report potholes to the public works department at 919-365-3616 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ Zebulon: Call the public works department at 919-269-5285.