No more quick fix for potholes

January 9, 2009 3:45:19 PM PST
At the Auto Shape body shop, owner Henry Vanpala says at least 30 percent of problems he sees with cars are caused by the same culprit: potholes."I see extensive damage to the cars," he explained.

Dropping your front wheels into a good sized hole at speed can mess up a car's alignment. If the hole is big enough, it can do even more damage.

"The person hit a pothole which messed up the suspension which is all pushed back," said Vanpala as he showed Eyewitness News a car that had come in for repair.

For years, the City of Raleigh has quickly patched potholes on state roads and the Department of Transportation has paid it back for the work. But, as of the New Year, that agreement is over. A letter from the DOT to the city blames is on a "severe decrease" in revenue.

Click here to read the letter (.pdf)

From now on, the state will be alone making repairs because it can't afford to pay Raleigh to do them.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker says that spells trouble.

"It's a really bad idea" he told Eyewitness News. "It was just in an effort to save money that they're doing this. But it might affect drivers and potholes will not be repaired as quickly."

So how wide will the problem be? Consider that there are 251 miles of state-maintained roads in the City of Raleigh. That's a lot of potential potholes.

"It's not just the Beltline or 540. It's roads like Glenwood Avenue, Strickland Road, Six Forks road, all those are state roads so it affects the major thoroughfares in our city," said Meeker.

The mayor said Raleigh tries to pave potholes in 24 hours. He thinks the DOT will take days.

Back at the body shop, Vanpala sees the situation two ways.

"As a driver, I hate it because it's such a tremendous safety issue," he said. "As the owner of a body shop, it's just like cell phones it increases our business tremendously."

Raleigh leaders say they probably patch more than a thousand potholes each year on state-maintained roads. They also say they're not the only ones dealing with this issue. They say the DOT has had to cancel agreements it had with other cities as well.


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