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City responds to commonly asked questions about potholes
Commonly asked questions about potholes
Posted on 01/07/2020
Public Works crews fill approximately 55,000 potholes annually. We’ve gotten several questions from you about potholes so we thought we’d share answers to some commonly asked questions.

How many people does the City have working on potholes?
During peak pothole season we have up to twelve crews, which means around 50 people.  We can pull crews off of other tasks – including litter pickup – to prioritize this. We can utilize overtime shifts as well to tackle the problem as needed. However, on days with extended or heavy periods of rain, or any other poor weather, then our hands are tied as we can’t fix potholes.
 
Where are your crews working?
We have crews throughout the city addressing potholes. To help coordinate this, we’ve broken up the city into grids to tackle different areas. We have 6,800 lane miles over 340 square miles to cover.
 
How does the City fix potholes?
If the temperature is below 35 degrees, we use a cold asphalt mix. If the temperature is above 35 degrees and not raining then we use hot asphalt mix made from our own plant.
 
How many potholes are filled every day?
We typically average about 300 potholes filled every day, but we have the capacity by reassigning staff and utilizing overtime to average almost 500 a day. 
 
How long does it take to fill a pothole?
Two days on average from the time reported, but it can take up to five days.
 
How much does it cost to fix a pothole?
On average, $45 per pothole.
 
What should I do if I have car damage due to a pothole?
To start the claims process, please click here.
 
What about larger problem areas that aren’t just one pothole?
Cut-and-patch is a possibility moving forward, but we’re triaging at this point by focusing only on potholes and addressing immediate safety hazards is our primary concern.
 
What about potholes on the interstate?
TDOT (Tennessee Dept. of Transportation) maintains interstates. To report a pothole on the interstate to TDOT please call 731.935.0205.
 
What does the City do about large potholes after hours? We have after-hours crews that can place barricades around potholes until they can be fixed. Please remember, trying to fix potholes in the dark is dangerous for both crews and drivers. 
 
Do you only fill potholes that are reported?

No, in fact, 85 percent of the potholes we fill are not reported, they’re just ones that our crews see while making their rounds. Please never assume that we know about a pothole. The sooner you report them to us the sooner we can get them fixed. You can report them by calling 311, using the Memphis 311 app on your phone or by visiting us at memphistn.gov/government/311.
 
How is a pothole made?
Potholes are created when moisture seeps into the pavement, freezes, expands and then thaws. This weakens the pavement, then as cars and other traffic drive over it, it loosens even more. Eventually the asphalt pavement breaks up and pops out. 

If you’re interested in learning how potholes are created, check out this handy video from TDOT.


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