Potholes are wicked bad thanks to the pandemic

Potholes are wicked bad thanks to the pandemic

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — It is pothole season and, believe it or not, the pandemic is impacting the repairs. Typically, cities and towns, as well as the state, rely on driver tips on where the roads are crumbling so they can dispatch crews. But there are fewer drivers on the road because of the pandemic, and that is causing some delay time on what needs to be fixed.

Everyone knows exactly when it happens. You hit the hole, your car shakes and as one driver put it, “you hit it, and all of a sudden you jump and your car goes crazy.”

Potholes are turning up everywhere and doing what they do best. Causing damage.

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Elie Lakkis owns Abe’s Complete Auto in Cambridge. When we stopped by, he was working on a pothole damage repair.

“Two ball joints, labor, and alignment is $650 on this Kia Sportage,” Lakkis said.

He said the damage can be pricey.

“$500 to $1000 depending on the year, make, and model. Newer cars are on the high end and nothing is cheap,” Lakkis said.

Cambridge Superintendent of Streets T.J. Shea said potholes usually form when water gets down into the cracks of the road and freezes. When the ice expands, it caused the road to break up and crumble.

“It warms up and thaws. It’s just a vicious cycle,” Shea said.

His crews have been working to fill them, but during the pandemic, Shea said they don’t have as much help from drivers when it comes to finding them.

“Since there are fewer cars on the road, we are not getting the information as much as we used to,” said Shea.

The city said it is getting 70% fewer tips, so they have had to find many of the potholes on their own.

A MassDOT spokesperson told us:

“The recent temperature changes, combined with elevated moisture levels, have resulted in an increased number of potholes across the Commonwealth. MassDOT crews are actively patching potholes, with a majority of the work occurring mid-day and at night when traffic volumes are lower. MassDOT is not expecting any impacts to staffing during the patching operations, as we have evaluated all operating procedures and have taken actions to minimize the spread of COVID-19 while providing the core services to our transportation network.”