Seattle Pothole Information
For the month of March 2014
* excludes requests that were closed because they were duplicates
Seattle Pothole Map
We know that potholes are a significant issue for people getting around in Seattle, especially in the winter and spring. When needed, SDOT assigns additional crews to help fill potholes across the city. Our goal is to keep the unfilled pothole requests at a steady low number.
On this map, you can see all the potholes that have been reported and the ones that have been filled. To help us reduce duplicate requests, you can check the map to see if we already have a pothole repair request for the location that concerns you.
The Pothole Status Map displays
When you request a pothole repair, the pothole is usually filled with either a temporary or permanent patch. The map will display the location of the repair, including the number of potholes filled and the date. Sometimes SDOT can’t complete the pothole repair (see some of the reasons why); when this happens the request is removed from the map.
The map is refreshed with current data each night. It displays all pothole requests that haven’t been completed, and pothole repairs that have been completed since March 15, 2010.
A note about the location: The symbol on the map shows the approximate location of the pothole. If the pothole request spans multiple blocks, the symbol has been placed somewhere within those blocks. If the request is for a specific location on a block, the symbol is placed at the midpoint of the block. You can check the Location Description to see more information about the specific site where our crews will be doing work by clicking on the pothole symbol.
Report A Pothole!
In 2010, we reviewed our methods of patching potholes. We found that there were better methods that would provide a longer-lasting patch, and have made those changes. This method takes more time when a pothole is fixed, but will last much longer than the method we have used in the past. In the long run, this will leave Seattle streets better off for a longer period of time. Our goal now is to repair potholes within three business days of receiving a report.
POTHOLE AND STREET REPAIR HOTLINE:
CityStream: Pothole Rangers
What you have been wanting to know but didn’t know who to ask…
Why are there so many potholes in Seattle streets?
You can expect to see more potholes in the winter and spring, following periods of cold temperatures and rain or snow. Many streets, particularly in the outer areas of the city have a very poor underlying structure, or sub base, which reacts poorly to these conditions. The asphalt heaves upward as the water under the road and in small cracks freezes and expands.
It is helpful for the public to call SDOT and report potholes on streets within the city limits, via 684-ROAD (7623), so we can fill them quickly.
You filled a pothole, but a few days later, there it was again. Why don’t your repairs last longer?
The material used to patch potholes doesn’t stick as well to the surrounding pavement when it is cold or wet, so repairs made in the winter may not last as long as on dry, warm pavement. We can’t wait for dry weather to fill potholes, however, because we must maintain safety. In late December and the beginning of January, asphalt plants are closed, and hot asphalt is not available. Instead, during these weeks, we use a “cold mix.” Pothole repairs made under adverse conditions may not last as long, but the potholes still need to be filled for reasons of safety.
If the cause of the pothole is not corrected, such as water getting under the pavement, pothole patches may fail, or more potholes will continue to form. The long-term solution is to repave the street, and in some cases, to reconstruct the street from the ground up, and from curb to curb. Potholes are also temporary repairs. That said, some pothole repairs last longer than others.
There are several reasons why we may not have made the repair you requested:
Weather conditions have created a backlog: There are seasonal variations in the amount of new potholes that are created. When there is a significant backlog, SDOT will put extra crews on the job of filling potholes until the backlog is gone.
Can’t find the pothole: Sometimes we are given insufficient information or there may be a car parked over the pothole when we arrive, hiding it from view. If we have the name and telephone number of the person who reported the pothole, we call for a better description of the location.
Utility cuts: Some of the potholes reported are the responsibilities of other parties to fill. The agencies or private contractors who dig into the street to work on underground utilities must either repair the street pavement or pay SDOT to make the final, permanent repair. If the "utility cut" is not properly repaired, the area of the excavation can sink, leaving what can appear to be a pothole. When these are reported, we may require the utility to return and correct the paving. This may take longer than three business days.
Utility covers: When entrances to underground utilities become worn, the owners of the utility must repair cracked or damaged pavement around the rim.
Railroad Tracks: SDOT is not allowed to work within four feet of railroad tracks. This area must be repaired by the railroad. Repairs in the area we are responsible for within 25 feet of railroad tracks may take longer than 72 hours because we have to coordinate with the railroad.
Off to the side of the road: Sometimes a pothole forms off to the side of the roadway, especially when drainage is inadequate and the area is used for parking. These areas are usually the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to maintain. When a street is fully improved, these areas include a planting strip, sidewalk, and curb. An SDOT Street Use inspector can verify if the pothole is in the part of the right of way that is the responsibility of the property owner.
Can’t be repaired as a pothole: Some defects that are reported as potholes are really some other kind of problem that can’t be repaired as a pothole. Sometimes it is a rough or rutted surface of a road that needs to be repaved or totally rebuilt from the base to the surface. Other times it is a void or sink-hole, a crumbled street edge, or pavement with layers of asphalt that have become separated (delaminated), or a long fissure or crack. A few streets in Seattle are surfaced with a very thin layer of liquid asphalt (containing no aggregate) covering bricks or paving stones. Defects in these streets cannot be fixed as a pothole. While most defects can be repaired, it may take longer, and some processes, such as crack seal or chip sealing are only done in the summer. If there is a safety hazard, SDOT crews will set barricades around the problem area or they may close a lane.
How do I know if what I am reporting can be repaired as a pothole or not?
We don’t expect everyone to be able to distinguish among pavement defects. We encourage you to report any type of pavement defect that is of concern to you, especially if it appears hazardous. If we can’t make an immediate repair, we may be able to repair it later. If needed, we will block off the area to maintain safety.
Does SDOT fill potholes on residential streets?
SDOT fills potholes on paved residential streets. On streets that are not paved with concrete or asphalt, such as gravel roadways or streets with chip-sealed surfaces (emulsion embedded with crushed rock), repairs may need to wait until the street can be graded or resealed.
Does SDOT fill potholes in alleys?
Property owners are responsible for the alleys next to their property (find out more). SDOT fills potholes on alleys paved to City standards (typically concrete), but unimproved alleys (those not paved to City standards) are not considered part of the City's street system and are not maintained SDOT. Alley maintenance funds are scarce. If a paved alley is damaged to the extent that there is a safety or mobility problem, SDOT will make pothole patch repairs as possible. More extensive repairs are likely to be conducted by the abutting property owners.
Pothole Rangers fill potholes
SDOT has trucks, called hotboxes, dedicated to filling potholes. The teams that take these trucks out to repair Seattle streets are called the Pothole Rangers.
How many potholes are filled
The Pothole Rangers fill approximately 10,000 potholes each year. More than 5,000 pothole repair requests a year are submitted by the public.
Most potholes happen following periods of snow and ice or heavy rain. This table shows the number of potholes filled in recent months:
Rangers fill potholes within three business days
The goal is to fill potholes within three business days, starting the morning after they are reported to SDOT. This does not include pavement defects that cannot be repaired as potholes.
What causes a pothole?
Potholes occur when street pavement cracks and breaks because of water or traffic.
Water can get under the pavement through cracks or from the side of the road. Over time, the water can cause the material under the pavement to erode, causing the pavement to sink down and break. During the winter, the water under the pavement can freeze and expand, and then thaw and contract. This freeze/thaw cycle can cause the pavement to crack so that it deteriorates quickly under the weight of traffic, and then streets can seem to break out in potholes overnight.
Traffic that is too heavy for the pavement’s design can result in cracks. Large volumes of traffic or heavy trucks and buses using a street not designed for this load can cause the pavement to crack and break apart.
The solution to potholes
The long-term solution to potholes is to repave or reconstruct the street. Potholes will not usually form on pavement that is in good condition, that keeps water out from under the pavement, and that is designed for the type of traffic that uses it.
Thanks to Bridging the Gap, SDOT has repaved 129 miles of arterial roadways in 2007-10, and will repave 24 more miles of road in 2011.