Uptick in potholes has Memphis, TDOT asking drivers to report potholes as they see them

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 4:41 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With temperatures rising and dropping around the freezing point, potholes are becoming the chief concern for road crews in Memphis and the Mid-South.

Memphis Public Works says they’ve filled in over a thousand potholes in the last ten days, 2,160 since the start of the new year. They expect to see many more in the days ahead.

“That frozen precipitation or wet precipitation seeps into those cracks in the asphalt and then falls over it and then traffic runs over it and pop goes the pothole,” said Nichole Lawrence with TDOT.

TDOT announced Friday that they’ve already put $3.32 million dollars, a third of their $9.16 million pothole budget, toward patching potholes this fiscal year.

They, along with Memphis Public Works, are urging drivers to call and report these potholes to make it easier for crews to fill them and subsequently drivers to safely drive over them.

“We are averaging 85% of potholes that are not reported. That’s all just proactively by our employees,” said Robert Knecht, Memphis’s Public Works Director.

Memphis keeps a daily log of filled potholes.

In 2021, there were 68,031 potholes filled in the city, and only 6,912 of them were called in by residents.

While the cold weather is what causes the potholes, it also prevents effective preventative measures.

Lawrence wants drivers to understand that cold patching these potholes is among crews’ only options.

“That’s due to asphalt plants being shut down right now,” she said. “Once spring and summer hit and those asphalt plants are reopened, there is a potential for some of those patches... for us to go back to some of those patches and do more of a permanent repair.”

“Cold mix is not durable. It doesn’t do a good job. It doesn’t hold up as long as the hot mix repair, but we do it just as a preventative measure,” Knecht said.

Above all, both Lawrence and Knecht are asking drivers to mind the crews who are working.

“These people are at risk, and the guys filling potholes are in the middle of the road,” Knecht said.

“There are areas where we need to get out there just because it’s an emergency situation that we need to get out there and get it patched as safely as possible and as soon as possible,” said Lawrence.

Memphis residents can call 3-1-1 to report potholes or the 3-1-1 call center at (901) 636-6500.

They can also download the Memphis 3-1-1 app on their smartphone to report issues and also monitor the progress through the tracker.

For major highways under the oversight of TDOT, drivers can call the West TN District at (731) 935-0205.

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