Central Ohio drivers fear potholes ahead of winter, ODOT preparing roadways


Winter months in Ohio bring joyous holidays, colder temperatures, traveling families and unfortunately, potholes. In fact, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) told 10TV they saw an exceptional number of pothole complaints during the 2017-2018 winter season.

In preparation for the upcoming season, ODOT has worked night and day, literally, over the last few months, to prevent some of the same struggles drivers faced last winter.

Drivers like Jonathan Mills, who told 10TV he faced around $2,600 in damages after hitting two potholes in two years along his commute on I-71 south from Grandview to Grove City.

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“I frequently encountered other commuters that were disabled along 71 on my commute to work,” Mills said, when describing his drive during the winter season.

To ease the blow, ODOT settled both claims, covering the damage, Mills said.

But the settled claims didn’t completely satisfy him.

“In some ways it’s, I would say, my reaction is a little bittersweet,” Mills said. “It’s nice to be reimbursed for the damages but at the same time, I realize it’s an expense to all the taxpayers of Ohio.”

Searching for answers, 10TV talked with ODOT about what happened last year to cause the exceptional number of pothole complaints.

It comes down to one main issue at hand, said Scott Anverse, ODOT transportation administrator for Franklin County.

“We had a lot of moisture, a lot of difference in temperature, the thawing and the freezing, and a lot of that older pavement started to deteriorate,” Anverse said. “Especially with as much motoring public we have here in the City of Columbus.”

Drivers may have noticed ODOT crews working on the highways and roads over the last few months.

Those pavement projects are planned out about six years in advance but ODOT can only plan so much when it comes to the weather and its impact on the roads, Anverse said.

“I believe it was all unforeseen,” he said “We can’t predict Mother Nature.”

But in combination to the poor weather conditions, Mills noticed many pothole concerns in and around construction zones like the South Side Mega Fix.

Mills wonders why those issues weren’t addressed before kicking off the projects and ahead of the cold weather, he told 10TV.
ODOT representatives explained that they planned and allotted materials for some pavement damages in areas like the I-71 work zone south of downtown, as crews worked to replace pavement and shift lanes. The inconsistent weather, however, was an unanticipated curve ball.

Crews work constantly to address potholes that pop up without warning, but when the weather becomes unpredictable, ODOT relies on drivers to report problem spots for emergency repairs.

“We hope to be right back out there and fix it within 24 hours. That’s our goal,” Anverse said. “Normally, we probably hit that right on. We have an excellent workforce here. It’s well-trained. They know what the expectation is and they try to get out there and address them as soon as they can.”
Heading into the upcoming winter months, ODOT explained to 10TV that they have made adjustments based on lessons learned. For example, this year crews prioritized the resurfacing component of the Smart Lane Project, so that I-670 could be paved before winter. Drivers may also notice repairs to the East Side Split, even though future projects are still on the way.

Below are a few tips to help drivers should a pothole cause damage to their vehicle:
1. After hitting the pothole, drivers should try to reach their final destination or the nearest safe place to off the roadway to pull over.
2. Collect photos at all angles of damage to the car. Also, save any and all receipt from damage repairs.
3. Submit a complaint through ODOT's pothole reporting system online. Make sure to keep a paper trail of all submitted complaints.
4. Send all evidence, damage receipts and copies of submitted complaints to the Ohio Court of Claims in order to try for compensation.
5. And finally...

"If you see issues with the roadway take a couple minutes to report them so that (ODOT is) aware of them," Mills said. "And then that way if you do hit that pothole in the future, you can use that as evidence when you file a claim."

ODOT sends crews out regularly to monitor potholes but drivers can help cut back the number of incidents on the roadway by reporting potholes to ODOT each time they see them.

To report a pothole or area in need of attention to ODOT, click here.
To file a claim with the Ohio Court of Claims, click here.

Tune in to 10 This Morning each day for a look at the latest road conditions before heading out the door.

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