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Drivers are sick of potholes in metro Detroit, so what's being done to fix them?

Posted at 1:46 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 18:25:32-05

(WXYZ) — Different year, same story. If you’ve driven around metro Detroit for any length of time, you likely have a pothole story or two.

“We need some real, long-term care to these streets, because car insurance is going up, because you’re breaking axles, you’re breaking tie rods," said Chris Gary, a driver.

Anansia Paylor tells 7 Action News she came very close to having a costly fix.

RELATED: Here's how you can report potholes in metro Detroit and Michigan

“I was going to a drive-in this summer and there was a gigantic pothole, and I almost messed up my car. It’s like half the street was a pothole,” she said.

The Michigan Department of Transportation, cities and county road commissions are devising plans to fix what this winter’s constant freeze-thaw activity has led to.

Monday, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said as of this week, they’re expanding staff schedules to 10 hours per day/6 days a week.

In a release he said, in part:

"Wayne County has a 10-year asset management plan to improve our roads and bridges, but more funding is needed."

Evans is calling on the federal and state government to fund an infrastructure fix.

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Craig Bryson of the Oakland County Road Commission concurs on the need for funding.

And says the long-term solution to potholes is reconstructing and/or resurfacing, instead of patch work.

But we also asked him about the study and use of materials that are more durable and, in theory, would help roads last even longer.

"The materials are always changing. Every year they evolve a little bit. We work with national research, the national research board which is the research branch of the federal government. We work closely with them and with other agencies throughout the country that are always looking at these. The academic world is always looking into these. So that’s kind of a gradual evolutionary thing. There hasn’t been to this point any radical new thing that’s going to solve the problem. But it does get better," said Bryson.

Dr. Nishantha Bandara is with the Lawrence Tech Transportation Institute, studying the nation’s troubled infrastructure and solutions.

The civil engineer previously worked for MDOT, where he says they started building roads using a “drainable base," giving water a place to go.

“Water goes through the cracks of the spaces between the surface, and then it quickly moves to the underdrain so it doesn’t stay just below the surface of the road," said Dr. Bandara.

Bandara says the system has been in place on some Michigan roads for about 10 years now. Sooner or later, he says engineers will have a good idea on its effectiveness. But he says one of the challenges to mass adoption is cost.

"Installing those underdrains and connecting them to manholes, somehow draining to natural streams, and so on, and it takes … it costs more,”
he said.

To report a pothole problem, here's a list of resources:

For MDOT, reporting a pothole: https://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616,7-151-9615_30883---,00.html

For MDOT, seeking reimbursement for damage: https://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616,7-151-9615_30883_85656---,00.html

Report a pothole in Oakland County: https://www.rcocweb.org/184/How-to-Report-Potholes

File a claim in Oakland County: https://www.rcocweb.org/276/File-a-Damage-Claim

To report a pothole and file a damage claim in Wayne County: https://www.waynecounty.com/departments/publicservices/roads.aspx

In Macomb County, motorists can report a pothole here: https://roads.macombgov.org/Roads-Departments-Maintenance
And to try to get reimbursement: https://roads.macombgov.org/Roads-FAQs

In Detroit, start with the Improve Detroit app.