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Drivers will have to deal with potholes on Interstate 71 for longer than expected

ODOT is behind on filing them, extends project to 2021
Posted at 12:13 AM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 11:29:33-04

CINCINNATI — Potholes continue to cause nightmares for Interstate 71 drivers three weeks after WCPO notified the Ohio Department of Transportation about a spike of flat tires and damaged cars.

And it could get worse - and for longer than expected.

An ODOT spokesperson told WCPO it’s behind on fixing potholes because of the recent heavy rains.

A gas station owner says he sees the damage to cars every day and worries that I-71 has become a minefield with a bad accident waiting to happen.

"When I see the cars come in with the flat tire, I know it's from 71," says Ayman Abunaffa, who owns the Marathon off Kenwood Road.

That's where damaged cars exit and limp to safety.

SEE how to report damage to ODOT below.

Abunaffa has been keeping a video log of drivers’ complaints. Some examples:

"Didn't see it in the rain. Have two flat tires because of it. One right after the other."

"I hit a pothole. Next thing you know, I can't really drive. So I tried to pull over."

“I was able to get the car here. Thank God."

The trouble begins in the northbound lanes around Red Bank Road and ends just past the Stewart Road exit, south of Kenwood Road.

Abunaffa says the flat tires and damage to the rims and cars are bad enough, but he’s worried something much worse could happen.

“We don't need to have a bad accident on 71,” Abunaffa says.

Glenn Halila says navigating I-71 is like an obstacle course..

"I grind my teeth a lot," says Halila.

He drives that stretch of the highway every day and has had more than his share of damage.

"I had two flats, two days apart. The potholes. The ridges. It's terrible," says Halila. "I keep thinking, 'Why does it take so long?' "

So WCPO asked ODOT again.

An ODOT spokesperson says the problems are taking place in a construction zone and it's up to the contractors and inspectors to ensure safety.

As a matter of fact, ODOT says you could be in for a rough ride on I-71 for a year longer than expected.

ODOT says this project was supposed to wrap up next summer, but they've extended it to 2021.

ODOT did promise there will be inspectors monitoring the situation.

HOW TO REPORT DAMAGE TO ODOT

Drivers can submit a damage report through ODOT online. You can also contact ODOT to see what's the best route to move forward with submitting a claim - through the contractor or Court of Claims.