CINCINNATI — It's pothole season once again. While Cincinnatians may be used to driving during this cursed time year after year, many may also have laid to rest a good tire or two as the craters open and reopen again.
Public services crews could face mandatory overtime this weekend to help respond to a backlog of citizen complaints, city leaders said Wednesday. Twenty crews work on two shifts each day, but those crews are the same crews responsible for pre-treating, salting, and clearing roads in winter weather — which could arrive again in Cincinnati in days.
"The challenge we have continues to be the weather," said Mayor Aftab Pureval at a news conference Wednesday. "But you can believe once there's a respite from that weather and once conditions allow we'll be all hands on deck and all hands on deck plus with this mandatory overtime to continue to address this issue."
Another challenge the city said it faces in filling potholes this year is an early start and a shortage of hot asphalt patching. The city has been turning to cold patching which is a temporary filling, but designed to be used in colder temperatures.
"Factories don't make hot asphalt until later on in the season because weather conditions don't permit hot asphalt to be made this early in the season," said Pureval. "The pothole season came very early here in Cincinnati."
While city data Tuesday showed the city has filled 1,704 potholes so far this year, there are still 1,190 active requests, though some of those are duplicate reports and the city did not release how many unique pothole requests remain unfilled.
"This has been the highest number of complaints we've seen in over four years," said John Curp, interim city manager. Data shows 1496 complaints came in so far in February alone.
City data shows Westwood has the most complaints for potholes filed, followed by Oakley and West Price Hill.
Along River Road, Aron Back, who lives in Miami Township, lost two tires to two separate potholes along the stretch of roadway.
"It was dark and I hit, boom, and it was hard and my car shifted and my lights came on in the car saying 'low tire, low tire,'" said Back. "I pull into UDF and get out and my tire was completely gone."
That tire was lost on Wednesday, Feb. 16 and by the following Monday Back's car was down a tire once more.
"I hit another, different pothole by Jim and Jacks," she said. "It was the new tire, so now I have the spare again on my vehicle."
This time the impact took the rim too, causing a huge dent.
Rain washing over the Tri-State over the span of a week have helped set up the pavement on roads to fail ahead of cold snaps. The freezing and thawing roads crack and more potholes open up. Some re-open repeatedly in high traffic areas like River Road. Back said until the road is fixed, she's finding a new route to work each day.
"I will not go River Road until they actually repave the entire thing," she said. "There are so many cars that I have seen that were pulled over."
Fairfield area resident Ryan Vaughn blew a tire after he hit a pothole on Winchell Avenue in the West End, just before getting on I-75.
"I've never hit a pothole so hard in my life. I didn't see it at all," Vaughn said. "I seriously saw the flat part of my tire rolling alongside my car on 75."
The replacement cost him about $300, which AAA said is on the low end for repairs it is seeing for pothole damage this season.
"We're seeing on average anywhere from about a $250 repair to over $1,000," said Enrique Sanders, AAA district director. "In the first few weeks we've had a 20% increase in calls tired-related and pothole-related."
Residents living in the city of Cincinnati can report potholes by calling 513.591.6000 or through the city's mobile app. You can file a claim for damage at that same number.