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Philadelphia's Pothole Problem

Philadelphia’s Pothole Problem

You’re driving down the road when boom! Your tire hits a pothole. These bowl-shaped openings in the road can cause serious damage to your car, and may even lead to accidents.

If you think that the pothole problem in and around Philadelphia has gotten worse, you aren’t imagining things. In 2018, there were 52,247 potholes filled by August. In 2019, the city has already filled 34,646 potholes since January 1.

Pothole Damage

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), pothole damage costs drivers $3 billion annually or approximately $300 per driver. Potholes can cause problems with a car’s tires, wheels, shocks and struts, ball joints, tie rods, control rods, and other mechanisms. Hitting a pothole — or attempting to miss one — can also lead to a car accident, which can be both costly and dangerous.

Potholes are all-too-common in the greater Philadelphia area, yet can be hugely problematic. Mattiacci Law has put together an explainer on what exactly potholes are, where the worst potholes in Philadelphia are, and what you can do about problem potholes where you live, work, and drive.

Pothole Basics

Potholes are caused by a number of factors, including rain, temperature change, the age of the road system, traffic and drainage systems. When cracks form in the road surface, water gets into the cracks. As the water freezes, it expands, dislodging the road material and gravel. Erosion continues through the freeze/thaw cycle, and eventually, the road surface crumbles from the weight of traffic — forming a pothole.

Pothole Basics

There are several ways that a pothole can be fixed. If the weather isn’t favorable, a temporary fix may be applied with a patch of cold asphalt. Then a semi-permanent repair can be applied, which involves a crew reconstructing the edge of the pothole and the substrate underneath, and then pouring in hot asphalt and smoothing it.

Not all holes in the road are potholes, however. Some may be a cave-in or a ditch, which may require additional work from a utility company. These repairs will be more extensive than the typical three to four days needed to fix a pothole.

In Philadelphia, the responsibility to fix potholes doesn’t always fall on the city. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) or the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) may be required to fix some potholes.

The Most Reported Potholes in Philadelphia

There are 2,575 miles of roads throughout Philadelphia, which includes 2,180 miles of city streets, 35 miles of roads in Fairmount Park, and 360 miles of state highways.

According to 2019 data from the City of Philadelphia, the following city blocks have had the most reported potholes in the past 3 years:

The Most Reported Potholes in Philadelphia
  1. 7300 block of Emlen Street: 101 potholes
  2. 8000 block of Cresheim Valley Drive: 54 potholes
  3. 100 block of N. 22nd Street: 42 potholes
  4. 2300 block of N. Front Street: 41 potholes
  5. 5800 block of Ogontz Avenue: 40 potholes
  6. 400 block of E. Mount Pleasant Avenue: 38 potholes
  7. 2800 block of Kensington Avenue: 38 potholes
  8. 3400 block of Lincoln Drive: 32 potholes
  9. 800 block of E. Washington Lane: 32 potholes
  10. 2000 block of N. Front Street: 31 potholes
  11. 12800 block of Ducks Ferry Road: 30 potholes
  12. 500 block of Leverington Avenue: 29 potholes
  13. 2500 block of S. Clairon Street: 29 potholes
  14. 2200 block of N. Front Street: 28 potholes
  15. 1900 block of N. American Street: 28 potholes
  16. 6000 block of Lincoln Drive: 28 potholes
  17. 2600 block of Kensington Avenue: 27 potholes
  18. 6300 block of Jefferson Street: 26 potholes
  19. 6200 block of Lincoln Drive: 26 potholes
  20. 500 block of E. Mount Pleasant Avenue: 26 potholes
  21. 2700 block of Kensington Avenue: 25 potholes
  22. 13400 block of Worthington Avenue: 25 potholes
  23. 200 block of E. Mount Pleasant Avenue: 25 potholes
  24. 5700 block of Ogontz Avenue: 23 potholes
  25. 1300 block of S. 22nd Street: 23 potholes
  26. 500 block of W. Springfield Street: 22 potholes
  27. 2000 block of N. American Street: 21 potholes
  28. 11700 block of Thornton Road: 21 potholes
  29. 2200 block of Bryn Mawr Avenue: 20 potholes
  30. 12000 block of Evans Street: 20 potholes
  31. 7400 block of Ogontz Avenue: 20 potholes
  32. 4000 block of Palmetto Street: 20 potholes
  33. 200 block of S. 15th Street: 20 potholes

For Philadelphia drivers, it likely isn’t surprising that Emlen Street is the worst road in the city for potholes. This road in the Mt. Airy neighborhood is heavily-traveled, with some drivers likening driving on it to going through a minefield.

North Front Street and North 22nd Street are both located in North Philadelphia, an area that is plagued by blight, poverty. The high number of potholes on streets in these areas may be due to general neglect.

Can You Be Reimbursed for Pothole Damage?

If your car is damaged as a result of pothole on a city street, you are in luck — you can be compensated for your damages. The City of Philadelphia has a claims process that allows individuals to seek reimbursement for damages suffered as a result of pothole damage.

The process requires individuals to file a claim with the city. In addition to the claim form, you should submit documentation of the losses suffered, such as an estimate from a repair shop, along with a declaration page from an insurance company. If you have suffered more serious injuries, a skilled Philadelphia car accident attorney can work with you to help you recover for your losses.

Importantly, you can only recover for pothole damage suffered on city roads and streets. If you hit a pothole on a state road, you cannot be reimbursed.

How to Get Potholes Repaired

It can be incredibly frustrating to see pothole damage add up — and seemingly impossible to avoid all of the roads in and around Philadelphia that are littered with potholes. Fortunately, there is a way to request that a pothole be filled, and even a way to track when the work is done.

Reporting a pothole and requesting a repair is easy. Simply go to the Streets Philadelphia website, and submit a request. Depending on where the pothole is located, you will need to ask for the repair from the city, PennDOT, or SEPTA (for potholes on trolley tracks and 18 inches on either side of the tracks).

If you aren’t sure who is responsible for the road, check out the chart here. In addition to listing the 2019 paving schedule, it also denotes who is responsible for each roadway in and around Philadelphia.

Next, you can track street repairs with PavePHL, an interactive map that shows when and where paving crews are working. This can help residents to know when to expect trucks on their streets along with the general progress of paving work in the city.

How to Get Potholes Repaired

Beyond Car Damage

Potholes are known to harm vehicles in a number of ways, from puncturing tires to denting rims, to damaging the undercarriage and even throwing off a car’s alignment. But potholes also are a potential cause of motor vehicle and other types of accidents.

Whenever a road surface is degraded, there is the potential for an accident. A driver may swerve to avoid a pothole and hit another vehicle, a fixed object like a telephone pole, or even a pedestrian. Alternatively, a driver may hit a pothole and lose control of the car — leading to a crash.

Bicyclists and motorcyclists have an even greater risk of being injured by hitting a pothole. If a vehicle with only two wheels, like a motorcycle or a bike, hits a pothole, the rider could be thrown. Without the enclosed metal frame of a car to protect them, a rider is at risk of serious injury or even death from hitting a pothole.

While you may assume that the worst thing that could happen if you hit a pothole is some minor damage to your vehicle, potholes can cause car, truck, motorcycle and bike accidents. For this reason, it is important to drive carefully, particularly in Philadelphia, where there are potholes on most major roads — and where potholes are nearly inescapable in some neighborhoods.

At Mattiacci Law, we represent victims of all types of accidents. If you have been injured in a collision of any type, including one involving a pothole, we can help. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for your case. Contact our office today at 215-914-6919 (Philadelphia office) or 856-219-2481 (New Jersey office), or contact us online to schedule an appointment.