What are all the potholes in Atlanta?

Photograph by Cappi Thompson/Moment/Getty Images

When it comes to transportation, there is perhaps only one thing motorists and cyclists, skaters and scooters, walkers and wheelchair users, rich and poor can agree on : potholes suck. So, after years of scraping our undercarriages, knocking over our handlebars, twisting our ankles or just gruntling in traffic, Atlantans are asking for answers. Here they are.

How do potholes arise?
When a heavy vehicle comes into contact with cracked, water-softened asphalt, something magical happens: the earth splits open to spawn a chasm of desperation notorious for its costly and dangerous toll on travelers reckless – or rather the pressure of the weight of the automobile compromises the weakened place of the road where the water has infiltrated, causing it to collapse. Nationally, potholes caused more than $26 billion in damage last year alone, according to AAA.

What is the city of Atlanta doing to fix its pothole-covered roads?
In 2019, then-Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms launched the city’s first transportation department, aiming to centralize efforts to improve transportation infrastructure that had long been handled by three different offices. It was a start, but potholes kept popping up. So in April, new Mayor Andre Dickens revived Atlanta’s former “Pothole Posse,” a task force – now under the new DOT – dedicated to patching at least 30 potholes a day (although there are on average more than 50). The group patched more than 2,400 potholes between its revival and June 7, according to the DOT. The longevity of this solution is debated. While some companies claim to have the permanent solution to potholes, most planners admit that filling them is only a temporary remedy.

These efforts are expected to be supported, in part, by some of the $460 million in transportation investments that Atlanta residents approved in the May 24 election, of which $32 million is expected to go toward repairing roads.

Is there a universe in which Atlanta is free of potholes?
As long as Atlanta remains an automobile-dependent city, its streets will require maintenance. A pothole-free Atlanta is a pipe dream, says Matthew Garbett, co-founder of nonprofit urban planner ThreadATL, because even if the city drifts toward a transit-centric mindset, we’ll still have buses, delivery trucks and more to beat. our roads.

Additionally, “our pothole issues are less about transportation and more about budget issues based on poor land use decisions,” Garbett continues. In short, because Atlanta is full of underutilized surface parking lots and its zoning code makes it difficult to develop high-rise and dense, the city does not collect enough tax revenue to effectively repair its roads, bridges, sidewalks, trails. bikes and more. corridors.

How does the city decide when to stick one of those ugly metal plates over pavement imperfections?
This is determined on a case-by-case basis, according to the town hall. Sometimes DOT employees send in the ugly, noisy roadside dressings to keep the cracks from giving way to full-blown potholes; sometimes they are used to prevent minor potholes from becoming ponds which would further trap water and endanger travelers.

What should I do if a pothole cracks my tire, destroys my suspension, or stubs my toe?
You can always sue the city by filing a claim with its legal department. The office handles hundreds of complaints each year, paying out damages to a small portion of those who appeal. Between 2015 and 2019, the most comprehensive data available at press time, the city of Atlanta sent checks to 541 (or about 27%) of 2,000 plaintiffs, totaling nearly $600,000 in payments.

This article originally appeared in our August 2022 issue.

Comments are closed.