Streets worsening due to road conditions

Potholes are causing vehicle damage and traffic delays in the Omaha area


Photo by Olivia Edwards

Olivia Edwards, Staff Writer

Potholes are causing traffic delays, unexpected swerving and vehicle damage throughout the Omaha metro in this extra long winter season. Since the first snowfall of the season on October 14th, the roads have experienced major weather related issues that have led to the creation of oversized potholes crowding the streets.

The danger of these potholes can vary depending on the size. Several issues may come out of hitting a hole in the road whether it happens unexpectedly or is hit unavoidably. With large, gaping holes in the street, sometimes it’s impossible to miss them, according to senior Ava Dunne.

“It’s definitely annoying and inconvenient,” Dunne said. “It’s hard to try and swerve away from them because they’re in the middle of the road right where my wheels are, so I always hit them. They’re hard to go around.”

Tires may be blown and rims bent or cracked when hitting a large enough hole. Other parts of a vehicle that may be harmed by these dangerous conditions are the shocks and alignment, which may need to be replaced or redone prematurely after hitting an excessive amount of holes repeatedly. Most damage is invisible to the driver’s eyes, but with every groan that comes from running over yet another pothole, the car is racking up more unexpected repairs. Several people have had to pay for damage done to their cars, including senior Gage Klug.

Photo by Olivia Edwards

“Driving down Q Street, I ran over a pothole and it broke my rim,” Klug said.

“I had to get a whole new set of rims and they cost me $1500.”

Any potholes big enough to cause damage to a vehicle can be reported to Mayor Jean Stothert’s hotline. This can be contacted via telephone, fax, traditional mail or email. However, it can take some time before the report is acknowledged. According to the Omaha Hotline, on March 26th alone there were 444 potholes reported in a single 24 hours. The same site shows that there are still potholes from weeks ago that have yet to be attended to. KETV also shares that when the city contacted 11 crews to fix potholes, only five showed up.

Senior Rayce Miller details his opinion of the problematic situation.

“It definitely needs to be fixed,” Miller said. “It’s causing issues for drivers all around Omaha day after day.”

The severe winter weather of this season is caused by water trapped underneath the road. The water can come from rainfall or the melting of snow during the day time when the temperature rises above freezing. However, overnight in the winter months, the temperature is subject to fall to below freezing, meaning any liquid in the road refreezes under the surface of the cement. This causes a cycle of freezing and melting, which cracks the roads and breaks up the cement, causing holes and cracks in busy streets.

These potholes can be repaired in warmer weather, but until then, they’re filled temporarily. According to the City of Omaha Public Works, the city has 150 employees responsible for maintaining the roads, which stretch over 4,500 collective miles throughout the Omaha metro. This means any potholes reported may take time to be filled. Even after gaining city attention, some holes still appear to be only half-filled. Some people have varying opinions on this, including senior Meghan Schuette.

“I think they’ve been doing a decent job getting them fixed,” Schuette said. “They filled the potholes between Q and 144th, but from 168th from Q to Pacific is still horrible.”

Night-time itself can be a major issue. Some potholes can’t be seen in poorly lit areas. According to senior Carolyn Hudek, it can also be difficult for some drivers to tell if the holes are filled or if the street is just covered with a shadow, causing dangerous and unnecessary swerving.

“You have to make a quick decision swerve out of the way or run over it,” Hudek said. “You risk either danger to your car and an expensive bill, or you swerve into oncoming traffic. Other drivers get mad at you for trying to avoid the potholes or slow down as you go over them. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

Anybody traveling through the Omaha area should be cautious of these worsening road conditions. Several streets have been closed to be redone due to unfixable holes, such as 144th Street between Q street and Millard Avenue heading northbound and Q Street and U Street heading southbound.

Photo by Olivia Edwards

According to the Omaha World Herald, every claim for vehicle reimbursement due to potholes in the past five years, including driver Maurice Bailey’s claim filed after racking up $1200 for new tires caused by pothole damage, was turned down. Several citizens are getting impatient waiting on the repairs of potholes and are fed-up with the vehicle maintenance problems these massive craters are causing. Others are upset and feel as if their taxpayer dollars are going nowhere.

After facing this issue for months on end, both the city and the citizens are getting tired of potholes. With the warmer spring weather on the way, the city of Omaha is working to fix and fill any remaining holes to restore the roads for the rest of the year.