Potholes Proving Costly for Drivers and State's during Rough Win - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Potholes Proving Costly for Drivers and State's during Rough Winter

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - This winter has wreaked havoc on Delmarva's roads. Potholes are popping up all over the place.

Transportation officials in Delaware say the state has seen many more potholes than normal so far. Those potholes are costly for the state and for drivers.

Admiral Tire and Auto, in Dover, has seen a spike in business this winter.

"It's at least a 25 to 30 percent increase in the amount of tire damage we're seeing and rim damage this year from this winter," said manager Dominick Gollie.

And Gollie says it's all kinds of damage.

"The things we've seen are tire damage. I've seen rims damaged. We've had to do a lot of alignments."

DelDOT estimates having already filled in more than 4,400 potholes statewide this year. And department officials say this may only be about the half-way point.

"We've had 70 days where the temperature was above freezing and then dropped below freezing," said Sec. Shailen Bhatt. "That's what causes a pothole - the expansion and contraction."

Bhatt says the state budgeted $6.2 million for patching this year. A lot of it is gone at this point, which means tough choices could be ahead.

"With about $2 million left over, we're going to exceed that budget later this year," said Bhatt. "What we'll have to end up doing is either pulling money from another program, a capital project that won't go."

He says DelDOT is already $10 million over its storm budget for the year. But in the case of both potholes and snow, he says the money has to be spent.

"A lot of these potholes are immediate safety issues. We can't afford to let them fester," Bhatt said.

In Maryland, each year the State Highway Administration spends more than $2 million to fill in potholes on state roads.

Drivers are getting sick of dealing with the little craters.

"I just have to go through it really slow, everything in my car rattles," said Michelle Coker, of Salisbury.

And what seems like a never-ending winter is making things worse for drivers.

"It's worse, it's not even the main streets, it's the side streets," Coker said. "I guess it's from the salt. I have to put air in my tires every two days."

Wicomico County has spent more than $50,000 on pothole patching this winter. Last year's number was $30,000.

"The roads budget is restricted pretty badly and they're doing the best they can," Jack Elliott, of Salisbury, said. "I'd love to have all new highways but that's just not the real world."

"Sometimes I try to swerve but I look around and I don't want to swerve into something," Coker said. "Other times they're just unavoidable because they're in the side streets so there's no place to swerve to."

Both Maryland and Delaware rely on drivers to report potholes.

In Delaware you can dial #77 to make a report, send an email or fill out a form on the DelDOT web site.

In Maryland, you can report potholes on the state web site at http://tinyurl.com/yhhf43s. For potholes in Wicomico County contact the Roads Division at 410-548-4872.

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