What is Tulsa doing about the pothole problem on city streets? How do I report potholes?

Potholes may not see permanent repairs

The City of Tulsa is in the business of filling potholes again and again and again. Filling one is a three step process that takes a matter of minutes.

Crews start by clearing the pothole of debris with a blower, followed by pouring in asphalt and finally, patting it down.

The whole process can take less than two minutes, but potholes are reported hundreds of times a day. In fact, a 2NEWS Investigation found that on average, City of Tulsa crews fill 250 potholes a day.

Since July, crews have filled 45,000 potholes.

RELATED LINK: How to report a pothole to the City of Tulsa

Drivers of Tulsa streets understand why road crews are so busy.

"They're full of potholes, a lot of the areas need to be repaved," said driver John Bovaird.

The 2NEWS Investigators dug into how Tulsa stacks up compared to other cities when it comes to potholes. Wichita had 10,000 potholes over nine months. Memphis had 35,000. Both cities had less than Tulsa.

Filling all those potholes isn't cheap with materials costing between $3 and $12 per pothole.

We factored in the crews' salaries, work hours and potholes filled. We came up with a cost of $835,000 just to fill potholes for nine months. It's a lot of money for a temporary fix.

The impact of potholes extends beyond the pavement.

Tulsa ranks number one in the country for having the most insurance claims for vehicles damaged by bad roads.

RELATED STORY: Who pays when you hit a pothole? Is it you or the city?

"They'll damage the rims and blow out tires," said mechanic Ken Davidson.

Some roads are so far gone that street maintenance director, Dan Crossland, says crews are just working to keep them open.

"We try to hold it together the best we can with the resources we have to work with," said Crossland.

In fact, Crossland says your street may not see permanent repairs for five years or more if it's not listed on the streets improvement plan.

The streets maintenance backlog totals a whopping $1.5 billion, that's enough money to operate the City of Tulsa for two years.

Will the city ever get caught up on that backlog?

"Short answer, I would say no," said Crossland.

The 2NEWS Investigators sat down with Tulsa City Councilor G.T. Bynum to find out how the City got in this situation.

He says from the 1960's until 2008 Tulsa didn't invest in roads.

"This is what happens when you don't maintain your infrastructure," said Bynum.

Plus, the street maintenance department is short-staffed. It had 100 plus employees in the 1990s. Now, it's staffed with approximately 40 positions. But with budget cuts, there are only 21 employees in the streets department.

"There's no question that it would be great if we had more people out there doing that work," said Bynum.

There is some good news.

Two ballot measures passed by voters are pouring almost $1 billion into Tulsa streets over a decade. But those pothole-riddled roads are going to keep getting only temporarily patched until the whole road is closed and redone which could take five years or longer.

How 2 Works for You is Helping

The City of Tulsa told 2NEWS that each reported pothole that includes an exact address will be filled within 48 hours of the report.

However, for a stretch of road littered with potholes, the City said it may take a couple of weeks.

For example, our Facebook fan Courtney Phillips told us about multiple potholes on Peoria between 41st and 51st streets. We reported this stretch of potholes to the City of Tulsa on April 17, 2014. The call taker from the Mayor's Action line told 2NEWS the city will have these potholes filled by May 7, 2014.

We're keeping track of how many potholes are reported and when they're filled. We'll update you on the results.

RELATED LINK: Is your street slated for permanent repairs?

Check out our interactive map of potholes around Tulsa. Mobile app readers can see the map here .

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