Recent rains mean bad roads for San Diego drivers
With another storm looming, city crews were racing against the clock on Tuesday to get as many potholes patched as possible.
"Mother Nature has been really challenging this year," said Bethany Bizak, director of the city of San Diego Transportation Department. She said the recent rainstorms have created a backlog of 1,350 reported potholes in the city.
"On days when it's rainy or it's cold, it's really hard for us to do any kinds of pothole repairs," Bizak said. "So, like today (Tuesday), it's so important for us to get out, repair the roads, and prepare for the next rain event before it comes."
With more than 13 inches of rain since October — 35% more than the seasonal average — the city has lost an estimated 70 working days.
Some 60 city workers were fanned out across the city Tuesday to get to as many potholes as they could. And they will work overtime to maximize the number of holes patched.
It takes about three minutes for crews to patch up a pothole, and crews can patch up to 200 potholes a day.
The patches last between two to four months, depending on driving conditions. Bizak said the city's goal is to patch them up as quickly as possible to preserve the road for as long as possible. But ultimately, the long-term solution is to repave the road, she said.
Potholes aren't just a financial burden for the city. They also cost drivers. According to a AAA survey, in 2021 drivers paid an average of $600 to repair pothole damage on their cars.
Pete Hernandez, the owner of Winxton Tire Company in the College Area, said he's seen everything from popped tires to busted rims to suspension damage.
Between each storm, Hernandez said he's seen between 12 to 15 customers for pothole-related issues. A recent customer paid more than $2,500 to have their rims and tires replaced, he said.
"This one is a 19-inch wheel for a Mercedes," Hernandez said, pointing to the broken rim. "So it is a custom wheel. So, unfortunately, you cannot replace just one wheel. For this one, you're going to have to replace the whole set.”
According to AAA, damage caused by potholes cost drivers $26.5 billion in 2021.
Hernandez said he's glad the city is trying to fix as many roads as it can.
"It is a much-needed necessity here," he said. "Basically, all the roads need to be reconstructed for the safety of everyone, not just the vehicles."