Pothole claims against city not panning out for Omaha drivers

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- While there's not a lot of snow left after today, there are plenty of potholes — and a lot of heartbreaking stories of people who have filed claims with the city and the expense it took to get back on the road.

One guy blew out his tires on two separate occasions this winter.

One woman hit a pothole after getting another tire fixed from a different pothole.

Trouble is, the law is on the city's side.

When it's raining and the snow is melting, it's nearly impossible to identify and avoid a pothole.

RELATED: Pothole victims piling up at auto body shops

But when there's a sign warning of the danger ahead, some drivers seem to think the term "road closed" was merely a suggestion.

The path through Elmwood on Wednesday looked more like an amusement ride than a public road.

On Interstate 80 today, instead of a sign, law enforcement made themselves the barrier. The l Street interchange closed for an hour after as many as five cars blew out tires on potholes.

State road crews did what they could to fill the hazards.

Maurice Bailey joined the growing list of pothole victims this winter on Saddle Creek Road.

“There was a pothole in front of the car wash, and car wash water was covering it, and I hit it head-on, right before turning into the bank," he said.

Both of his passenger tires were blown out, causing more than $1,000 in damage, so he filed a claim with the city asking for reimbursement only to be told they won't be paying.

"It's going to be a headache for anyone who tries to do it," he said.

Going back at least two decades, 6 news has learned the law department has never paid a pothole claim.

"There should be some sort of system for those not able to afford it," Bailey said.

While this seems to be a lesson that you can't fight City Hall, many will keep on trying on principle, especially after today.

This woman hit a pothole on Cass Street at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Tow trucks were so busy with pothole pickups today that her tow didn't arrive until 5:30 p.m. — 3 1/2 hours later.

While the city often pays for snowplows who strike a car or mailbox, when it comes to potholes, the way the law reads: the City of Omaha must first know of the problem, and then be given a reasonable time to fix it.

And when it's snow or raining, there just aren't quick fixes, so the rest of us are out of luck.