Pothole problems growing in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

WYNNEWOOD - February 20, 2014

"You just kind of hit those potholes harder and harder and you're like, 'Oh great!" said Lee Von Seldeneck.

The potholes are everywhere, so many, you just can't miss them. City Avenue is one long minefield through three counties.

Most drivers are able to slow down in time to avoid damage to their cars, but others are caught off guard and swerve at the last minute.

"You can't swerve too much because there is a car next to you. Sometimes you're just forced to ride in it," said Alicia Meadows.

It is a teeth rattling, bone jarring commute for thousands every day on this road but help is on the way.

PennDOT has been able to switch from plowing to filling. They've got pothole crews taking advantage of the warm weather window all over the Delaware Valley.

Officials say they plan to keep going right on through the weekend. They are using hot patches, much more permanent than the cold patching they had been doing.

They are also using a lot of asphalt.

"We just went and did four ton already," said Pete Lipscomb, PennDOT.

However there's a lot more to go. Until they get them all, the commute is becoming more expensive.

It's been a bonanza for tire and repair shops. Blown tires and bent rims are adding to the bottom line and many are repeat customers.

"It's very frustrating when they have a slow leak in the tire and we put it up in the air and find a bend in the rim. When we go and explain it to them, they are rolling their eyes," said Tim Shook, Havertown Tire.

Even in New Jersey, potholes are lurking waiting to grab a tire.

Weary road crews in the Garden State are fresh from snow plow duty but are battling back.

"Given that this is not a real high traffic area, this could hold us for a couple months," said Chris Merulla, foreman.

Camden County is already 60 percent over its $1 million budget for plowing and patching. However, facing an epidemic it plans to spend $3 million more.

"We're basically going to blitz on potholes over the next 30 days. We are basically gathering all of our uncommitted capital funds for this project," said Louis Cappelli, Freeholder Director.

The county has 50 workers focused on the job. It is considering bringing in a 'Pothole Killer' truck - one operator using the automated system can fill a void in about 60 to 90 seconds.

However the Freeholder Director concedes some roads are beyond patching.

"Some roads are in such bad conditions that we cannot fix them temporarily. We will simply have to re-mill the roads," said Cappelli.

That has already begun so instead of patches, segments of county roads there are being milled and repaved.

Across the board, the goal is to smooth the way after a very rough winter.

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