Skip To Content
Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update: Jan. 18, 2019
Weekly Update: All about potholes
Posted on 01/18/2019

Strickland header


On your calendar, it says “winter.”

Here at City Hall, we call it “pothole season.”

That’s because winter in the Mid-South, with its wild swings in temperature and frequent rain (or worse), is a real breeding ground for potholes. Throw in the 6,800 lane-miles of streets we have spread out across more than 300 square miles, and you’ve got a recipe for plenty of potholes.

I’ll explain.

Potholes pop up all year long, but they increase dramatically during the winter. Here’s a big reason why: Water seeps under a street or into cracks in the asphalt, then freezes when the temperature drops below 32. When water freezes, it expands — often creating a buckle in the asphalt that leads to further weakness and, after more and more cars drive over it, a pothole.

That’s precisely what could happen this weekend. By tomorrow, we're expecting plenty of rain. A cold front will come in immediately behind the rain, bringing temperatures into the 20s both Saturday and Sunday nights.

That means we’ll probably have more potholes come next week. It’s just inevitable.

We’re not here to simply observe that, though. We’re here to act, and we do that in two ways:

  1. Repair potholes as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. We repaired some 63,000 potholes last year (yes, 63,000). Only about 7,000 of them were ones you reported to us, which means our crews are always out looking for them. As of late last year, we had driven down our response time to reported potholes to just under two days. That may rise as the volume of reports increases during the winter, but we’ve made improvements.
  2. Pave more streets with fresh, new asphalt. The best way to prevent a pothole in the winter is to resurface an aging street in the summer. That’s why we’ve doubled street paving allocations from just before I took office and almost tripled them from as recently as the 2012-13 budget. By the time our first three budget years are complete, we’ll have paved 90 percent more streets than the three years immediately preceding those. It will take time to climb out of the backlog from low funding in the earlier part of this decade, but we’re doing it. The chart below shows you just how much more paving we’re doing.

Paving chart

How can you help? The only sure-fire way for us to know about a pothole to repair is for you to tell us about it. We’ve made it easy to do that. You can:

  • Call 3-1-1 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Visit 
  • Use the Memphis 311 app

Thanks, all: From the statehouse to City Hall and everywhere in between, the new year dawns bright with new faces we’re eager to work with in telling the Memphis momentum story. But before then, I want to make sure you know how much I appreciate some of the public servants who are leaving the arena this year.

Gov. Bill Haslam has been an invaluable ally in Memphis’ economic growth, and I can’t tell you how much we worked together to move this city forward. Working with the General Assembly, Gov. Haslam made technical and community college free in Tennessee, the first such state in the nation where that’s a reality. This is an enormous advantage for us when it comes to workforce development — and simply helping Memphians have a better life.

As we worked to build the City’s relationship with state government, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell always had a gracious listening ear and took Memphis’ concerns to heart. Her work with the Building Commission is a big reason why we were able to have such success with the approvals of Tourism Development Zones like the Riverfront and Fairgrounds.

Rep. Johnnie Turner of Memphis, who retired after nearly a decade of service, truly did stand up for what’s right in the General Assembly and was a fierce advocate for her home city. I thank her for her passion and work on civil rights issues in particular, and I’m eager to see her continued involvement in Memphis.

And Judge Earnestine Hunt Dorse, who retired this month, leaves a great legacy as a City Court judge. At more than a quarter of a century, Judge Dorse was our longest-serving city judge.

I’ve always said that no matter your faith tradition, serving each other is what we’re called to do. These public servants did it at a high profile and a high level.

On behalf of a grateful city, I say thank you.

Strickland signature

Each Friday, Mayor Jim Strickland sends his Weekly Update email. It's a recap of events from the week, a celebration of Memphis' successes, and a frank look at our challenges. To receive the Weekly Update in your inbox, sign up here.

City of Memphis | All Rights Reserved | Powered by CivicLive | © 2020 Intrado Corporation.