The melting of dirty gray mounds of snow Monday exposed two more challenges for weary city workers: a week’s backlog of uncollected garbage and an estimated 20,000 potholes in New York City alone.
“Oh man, it’s really bad, wham bam,” said Sankar Kissraj, 31, a United Parcel Service driver stopped at a light in his truck in midtown Manhattan. “There is a huge pothole at Seventh and 51st Street. When you go over it you really notice it.”
The same complaints echoed through the states affected by the Blizzard of ‘96, from Georgia to Maine.
“You have to swerve into the other lane of traffic to get around them. They’re all over the place,” construction worker Chris Gould, 21, said of the potholes in Trenton, N.J.
“People just don’t accept the fact that you can’t get through and get their two bags of garbage,” said Theresa Miller, a secretary at Cross Tyler Trash Service in Kenna, W.Va.
In New York, some 1,200 sanitation trucks, no longer fitted with snowplows, fanned out to collect about 51,000 tons of residential garbage, 8,000 tons of recyclable trash and 100,000 Christmas trees.
Some of the trees were discarded just prior to the blizzard of Jan. 7-8 and were still buried in snowbanks.
A hundred road crews were filling the worst potholes with hot asphalt. Still, auto-repair shops were anticipating plenty of business.
“We probably will see a lot of it,” said Ron Harrison, at a Midas muffler shop in the Queens borough. He said most pothole damage is to front ends - realignment, broken springs, broken ball joints, bent wheel rims and tire damage.
One pothole on the Long Island Expressway caused five flat tires, New York Highway Patrol Officer Michael Flannery said.
In Baltimore, crews began filling potholes Sunday at a rate of about 300 a day, said George Balog, director of that city’s public services department.
Potholes occur when water seeps through road cracks and erodes the dirt underneath, ultimately allowing a portion of the road to collapse under the weight of traffic. Cycles of freezing and thawing worsen the cracks and gaps.
Motorists gave authorities mixed reviews in dealing with the situation.
“The potholes are no problem,” said Louis Beonal, 61, a cab driver for 27 years. “It’s been that way for years. The city did a great job.”
Another New York City taxi driver, Nazeer Ahmad, 48, said: “These things, we expect them. Manhattan is much better than Yonkers, where I live. They haven’t done anything there and it’s a big problem.”
A test ride along New York highways and streets found lots of patched potholes and plenty of small unpatched ones, but no real car-swallowers.