Pesky potholes: Here's why fixing them can take so long, how you can report a pothole problem

Posted at 9:16 AM, Jan 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-19 21:26:11-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- We’ve all been there -- driving down the street on your daily commute, only to find yourself getting thumped in a pothole.

So how are these pesky pockets fixed? It’s a more lengthy task than you might expect.

Potholes are formed from the freeze-thaw weather cycle and fluctuating temperatures.

"With the wear and tear of traffic, fluctuating temperatures, it just kind of causes some issues with the asphalt," said Warren Stokes, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Works in Indianapolis.

DPW is on the prowl to patch reported pockets, working to make your travels a lot less bumpy.

"We have about 12 to 13 crews out in the city," Stokes said. "So, they're just filling out potholes based off of those Mayor Action Center Reports."

(We’ll get back to those Mayor Action Center Reports in a bit.)

But the process of patching isn't as easy as you might think: Even before the asphalt is put into the holes, they must first be cleaned of debris and any loose material. Once that material is out, then it’s time for the asphalt.

“After we put asphalt in it, we use a tamper tool and we tamper it down, kind of making sure that the asphalt is sticking," Stokes said. "And after that, we look it over, put more asphalt in, and kind of repeat that tampering process."

So, what's that timeline of being filled from the time of a report?

"On a street like Meridian Street which is a major thoroughfare, it could be up to three to 10 days," Stokes said.


But for neighborhoods, well, that’s a different story.

"It'll take longer, especially during the winter, because the streets are covered in snow. So, we want to make sure that we're taking care of the streets that a lot of folks are using during the day," Stokes said.

When it comes to potholes and getting that smooth commute, patience is the name of the game. Stokes also added that pothole fixes are not permanent, and to think of them as band-aids.

“The ultimate fix to a pothole is resurfacing the street," Stokes said. "But, we don’t just resurface a street based off a pothole. We look at things like drainage, we look at how many people are using this, and when the last time we’ve taken care of this street. But pothole reports do matter a lot for how we assess these streets for resurfacing."

To report a pothole, the best way is to contact the Mayor’s Action Center at 317-327-4622, or by using the RequestIndy portal.

You can see if any potholes you’ve noticed are already on DPW’s radar by going to the pothole viewer map. See that map below, or click here for the direct link to the map.

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