Potholes Put Strain On Budgets

Niagara Falls, NY - Across Western New York, crews are having a tough time keeping up with all of the potholes. The work is already taking its toll on city and county budgets.

Niagara Falls had two road crews out Friday covering potholes on two of the worst streets in the city.

With the winter warm-up coming next week, that is something you are about to see a lot more of. While the cold patch mix being used by road crews right now is not a permanent pothole fix, it is a welcome relief to drivers.

"Everywhere I go, there's a pothole. I have to dodge. I have to drive really, really slow," says Brenda Ware.

"Just be patient. We're doing what we can do. This has been one of the most brutal winters I can remember in forever," says Niagara Falls Public Works Director David Kinney.

Because of the constant thaw-freeze cycle, Kinney's crews in Niagara Falls are really just getting to the potholes.

"We've used a lot of money in snow. Well over what the budget was. Been in the red probably for the last two weeks," says Kinney.

In Niagara Falls, Kinney has clearance from the mayor and comptroller to keep paying workers overtime to get the job done. And, the only reason he is not over budget on pothole repair yet, is that the work is just beginning.

"Our employees are running from plowing snow to filling potholes with no time in between," he says.

Elsewhere, the work has been underway for a while, but is impossible to finish.

In Erie County, crews have been patching potholes as quickly as they can, but the county's public works commissioner says the pothole problems keep getting worse.

"The dollars that we set aside for our summer work, we're eating into now," Erie County Public Works Commissioner John Loffredo. "We're going to have to be creative and see where we could divert funds from to supplement that, the money we don't have there."

Ware just hopes road crews in Niagara Falls get to her neighborhood soon. A pothole already damaged her car, and one left her husband's car with 400-dollars worth of damage.

"I should be able to go down the street without tearing up my car. You know, why do I have to go over there near the casino, you know, I don't want to go out of my way. I have to go this way in order to go to work. I can't. It costs too much gas," she says.

Niagara Falls crews spent Friday afternoon patching potholes downtown to get them fixed for a big hockey tournament in town this weekend.

They also hope to use the pothole killer again this year. Last year, that machine helped fill more than 12-thousand potholes in Niagara Falls.


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