WASHINGTON - We all know the feeling – cruising along on a beautiful almost spring day when your car is nearly sidelined by a monster pothole.
If it feels like there are more on the roads lately, it is because there are. The roller coaster weather has unleashed a rash of potholes earlier than normal, according to AAA.
The precipitation the D.C. region has received seeps into the asphalt. When it refreezes, it expands and buckles the asphalt, leaving that spot thin and vulnerable. Get enough cars driving over it and a pothole is born.
They are the tire-poppers, the suspension-shakers, the coffee-spilling craters that are a nuisance at best and cost a small fortune in car repairs at worst.
“About two weeks ago, I got flat tire because I hit a pothole,” explained Paul Starke, who has lived in D.C. for 20 years. “I have seen them like this big [two feet] and this deep [one foot].”
“They are always throwing my car out of alignment,” added Barbara Gunning, another D.C. resident. “Just today, I went down Nebraska Avenue and it’s solid from Wisconsin to New Mexico. It’s deplorable.”
“Sometimes it’s like navigating a little war zone,” said John Corn, who moved to the nation’s capital from Florida in 2007. “If you don’t pay attention, you hit a pothole, all the sudden you’re like ‘Boom!’ And you are like, ‘What just hit my car?’ And you realize it was just a D.C. pothole.”
Every year, tens of thousands of potholes are reported in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
“It’s too overwhelming of a problem,” said Gunning. “You can’t just do a little single pothole.”
Enter Potholepalooza. It is D.C.’s answer to that very problem. Every spring, the city’s extra push wipes out thousands of potholes. Last year’s Potholepalooza resulted in 22,000 filled holes. In 2016, the city filled 75,000.
But somehow, the menacing dips only seem to multiply. What is a driver to do?
In Maryland, call 311 in your county or submit a request through your county’s website.
In Virginia, report potholes to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
According to AAA, reimbursements for damage to your car are difficult and slow to get, but possible.
In DC, motorists need to file with the Office of Risk Management:
In Maryland, claims go through the Maryland State Treasurer: www.treasurer.state.md.us/insurance/insurance-faqs.aspx
In Virginia, VDOT handles all claims directly: