They’re out there waiting for you.
From a trickle of water that seeped through cracked pavement, they grew with every freeze and thaw of another Buffalo winter.
Then, when the weather breaks, so do the roads. The pothole-scarred landscape is as much a sign of spring as crocuses and crowded car washes.
“It seems there are more potholes now than over the past couple years, because of the increased freezing and thawing cycle,” said John Loffredo, Erie County’s commissioner of public works.
The inconsistent weather created potholes that wreaked equal-opportunity destruction.
And it makes no difference whether you drive an old, rusty beater or something shiny and new off the showroom floor.
“No matter what you have, you can cause damage to a tire, to suspensions, to alignment,” said Lauren Fix, a locally based national automotive expert.
What separates a luxury car from basic transportation is the cost of repairs.
“If you’re driving a high-end [car], it’s going to cost more than driving a Kia,” Fix said.
So what’s a driver to do when approaching a pothole?
“The best thing to do is bypass it or straddle it,” Fix said.
And if you can’t?
“Drive slowly into it and slowly out of it if you’re forced to drive through it,” she said.
Meanwhile, don’t get the idea that potholes were left unattended.
To the contrary, some towns had crews out all winter, patching crevices before they became craters.
“We had a fairly average winter, but we were low on the snowplowing,” said Brad Rowles, the public works superintendent in North Tonawanda, where there are 118 miles of paved city roads. “By not having a lot of snow pack, we were able to keep an eye on the roads.”
“We are way ahead on this,” Rowles said.
The same approach is used in the Town of Orchard Park, which has about 120 miles of town roads.
“We are checking and making notes if we come across them. We deal with them pretty much through the winter,” said Highway Superintendent Fred Piasecki.
When it comes to prioritizing repairs, both superintendents said the main roads top the list.
“Obviously, if you have something on a main drag, you want to get that as quickly as possible,” Piasecki said.
Erie County highway crews will begin work soon on the 1,200 miles of county roads, which comprise five highway districts. Loffredo said the southern part of the county – particularly East Concord – tends to bear the brunt of harsh winter weather.
But the potholes are still there, and we’re only likely to be swerving around more as the weather warms up.