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City of Seattle

February 1, 5:02 PM click here to comment > 2

What are you working on? Pothole Rangers

Since our recent bad weather, the City’s list of potholes to fix has gotten quite long. In December alone we received about 1,800 requests to fill potholes, compared with 570 requests in December 2009. In order to catch up on the backlog, we increased the number of pothole crews from three to nine. Today we took a look at a regular day for one of those crews.

As we pull up, the crew is putting a quick patch on some smaller holes on the next block from our target pothole. A neighbor saw the crew and came over to point out the smaller potholes. It wasn’t on their list, but they’re always happy to patch a hole on the fly.

Crew Chief Will McMurtry says this pothole on 20th Ave E and E Alder is a particularly bad one, but that’s good news. “The deeper the pothole, the easier the fix” he explained. With shallow potholes, the patch tends to break up more quickly because the edge is closer to the surface. As soon as water gets under the edge, you’ve got a pothole again.

The crew will use a jackhammer to even out the edges of the pothole, and then they’ll sweep it out. The “mix” they fill the hole with won’t stick if there is debris left behind.

“This crew is the best in the city” Will told us. On a busy day, they can go through 3-4 tons of pothole mix. After the hole is prepped, they fill it with mix from the truck, and flatten it with a rolling compactor. Then they seal it with a substance called “cack” – an emulsion that helps it stick to the asphalt.

Then they finish it all off with a blowtorch to make the seal as tight as possible.

To make it easier to keep tabs on the potholes in your neighborhood, we just released an interactive map. This map shows all the potholes reported in the city that haven’t been filled, which ones are “in progress”, and the ones that have been filled. Between December 1st and January 15th, nearly 4,000 potholes were filled in Seattle. To report a pothole, call 684-ROAD (7623) or visit

The crew, from left to right: Darryl Lutovsky, Renee Matauia, Candy Naiuli, Eugene Davison and Crew Chief Will McMurty. On behalf of the Mayor’s office and everyone who uses our city streets in Seattle – thanks for all your hard work!

Posted by: Words: April Thomas Pictures: Jen Nance


Comment from MIKO
Time February 1, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Can you ask the workers this question: when the pothole is small, which means the filler won’t stick, why don’t they simply make the pothole bigger before filling it?

Comment from tomas
Time February 2, 2011 at 10:11 am

If they also fix potholes on the fly, it means people who interrupt workers get prioritized over problem I reported two months ago. Further it exposes personnel to possible improper influence.

Perhaps your crews have good ideas on how how to cover more ground.

What metrics do you use to evaluate efficiency and improvements of the crews? How do they compare to other cities?