Filling in potholes is currently the No. 1 task for the Valley Stream Highway Department, according to its supervisor Tim Leahy. John Gabrielson, left, and Frank Lopez filled in potholes near the Gibson Long Island Rail Road station last week.
Drivers on Long Island haven’t had the easiest time getting around this winter with heavy snowfalls and ice accumulations often blanketing roadways, but for some, the biggest issue has been what happens once the snow and ice melt — potholes.
When rain falls, snow melts or ice thaws it can seep into cracks in roadways, freeze and expand and cause potholes, making driving potentially hazardous for motorists. To make the roadways safer, the Valley Stream Highway Department has had multiple crews out temporarily filling in potholes until the roads can be repaved when the weather gets warmer.
Highway Supervisor Tim Leahy couldn’t venture a guess as to how many potholes there were at one point in the village, but said it was in the hundreds. Leahy said that this winter wasn’t worse than any other winter in regard to potholes, but did say it’s currently the number one task for his department. “Potholes are a priority,” he said.
There is at least one pothole crew out on the road year-round, Leahy said, but as of late there have been two or three crews out each day, which should be the case for the next couple of weeks.
The worst pothole problems occur on older roads, Leahy said, which are on the village’s repaving list for the spring and summer. Another problem for village crews, Leahy added, are patches created by utility workers. If the patch isn’t done properly, water can seep in and it starts to sink. Leahy said utility companies guarantee the patches for a certain number of years, but after that it becomes the problem of the entity that maintains the road.
“On a fairly new street with no utility patches you’re not going to have any problem,” Leahy said, adding that many of the formerly most problematic roadways have been repaved over the last decade.
When a resident calls or emails the highway department to report a pothole, Leahy said it jumps to the top of the list. When all of the reported potholes are filled in each day, crews take a section of the village and fill in potholes as they drive around.
To fill in a pothole, crews first clear out any ice or lose rocks, then fill it with cold patch and pack it down. “Right now we’re just making the roads safe,” Leahy said.