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Spring’s record-wet start amplifies potholes — and worse — on Omaha-metro roads

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The season is starting out the wettest on record and it’s wreaking havoc on our roadways. Potholes and infrastructure failures keep popping up, and drivers say they are tired of dodging them daily.

Kevin Farrell lives near 49th and Cass streets. Over the past week, what appears to be a sinkhole keeps growing outside of his home.

“It was just last week really when it started raining, we saw that the concrete underneath started breaking up,” said Kevin Farrell.

Drivers in Omaha say not only are they having to dodge potholes this season, but some deeper spots as well.

Near 30th and Webber streets, crews are working on this hole that has now spread to nearly half of a traffic lane.

“A lot of people are pulling over because their tires are being messed up or the rod up under the tire has been damaged because they constantly have to go through this pothole and it’s going to continue to tear up anybody’s car.”

Some of those “sinkholes” popping up are actually infrastructure failures. City officials say the rain isn’t helping.

“It depends on why it’s failing. If it’s a storm sewer that’s failing and the more rain we get—the more water that’s moving through that storm sewer, if there’s a leak in that pipe or a crack, absolutely. The more rain we get, the more material it takes downstream with it,” said Todd Pfitzer, City Engineer.

Leaders with the public works department say they’ve been held back this week because the plants that make the hot asphalt to patch up the roads, don’t run when it rains.

It could take years before the infrastructure failures creating the problems are fixed permanently. Those officials say the city’s street preservation fund will help with the issues we are seeing now.

“The more fresh, new streets we have that have been reconstructed, the fewer potholes we are going to have,” Pfitzer said. “As the mayor likes to say, we didn’t get into this problem overnight and we are not getting out of it overnight. So, it’s going to take a few years of this street preservation fund effort, and then it will really make a big difference.”

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