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PBOT's two week "March Madness" campaign fills 1,800 potholes, repairing 77% of the streets in East Portland, helping Portland recover from severe winter storms

Press Release
PBOT's full-court press generates results for Portlanders
Published
Updated
Before and after photos show pavement refreshed on SE 92nd Place from Burnside to Glisan

BEFORE and AFTER: The image at left shows numerous potholes and pavement distress on SE 92nd Place from E Burnside to NE Glisan St. Significant damage like this requires more than just filling potholes. At right, PBOT crews removed the damage pavement and repaved the area, resulting in a new, more durable surface. Photos by PBOT.

(March 21, 2024) In a special two-week "March Madness" campaign, crews with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) filled 1,800 potholes, repairing 77% of the streets in East Portland, helping Portland recover from severe winter storms.

In two weeks, crews repaired more than 1,000 lane miles of streets, roughly 21% of the total 4,900 miles of streets across the city.

January's deep freeze and repeated ice storms heavily impacted road conditions across the city. After PBOT put out a call for the public to help us identify potholes, pothole report call volumes rose to triple the normal volume, with 800 reports received in two weeks.  

PBOT crews supplemented public reports by proactively driving every city maintained street in East Portland, filling in any potholes they found.

"Our fast-acting PBOT crews have delivered for the public yet again," Transportation Director Millicent D. Williams said. "PBOT crews are on the front lines for the public during severe weather emergencies and every day as they respond to and repair road hazards across the city. Our staff take great satisfaction from repairing our streets and serving our community. The kind words and positive comments they received from the public throughout this event further underscored the value of their work."

Potholes commonly thwart people driving, biking, walking, and rolling. PBOT normally has two crews filling potholes year-round. From March 4 to 15, PBOT’s Street Systems Division diverted crews from a variety of other regular work to reorganize themselves into seven crews working exclusively on pothole repairs and small grind and pave projects known as “milling.”

Four pothole crews proactively focused their efforts on streets east of 82nd Avenue, where the city receives fewer pothole reports from the public but where we know there are hundreds of potholes. A fifth pothole crew repaired reported potholes in other areas of the city, focusing on areas where potholes had been reported weeks ago, to try to meet our goal of filling potholes within 30 days of receiving a report.

The final two crews within the Streets System Division performed medium and large milling work on pre-identified street segments east of 82nd Avenue.

The work covered roughly 20% of streets citywide. 

Blaze supports PBOT pothole crews during March Madness campaign 2024

Blaze, the mascot for the Portland Trail Blazers, visited PBOT pothole crews to show their support during the March Madness campaign. Photo by PBOT.


Potholes common after winter storms

Potholes are an inevitability in any city that experiences freezing temperatures. Potholes are caused by water entering cracks in the asphalt and freezing and expanding underneath the pavement surface. This weakens the road and makes it vulnerable to damage and potholes.

After a severe winter storm like the one Portland experienced in January, the problem can be even more widespread after frozen pavement has been driven on by snowplows and other heavy vehicles like buses and fire apparatus with heavy chains for the duration of the storm. Between Jan. 24 (following PBOT’s winter storm response) and Feb. 26, PBOT crews filled almost 3,000 potholes across the city. Crews have a goal of filling potholes within 30 days of them being reported. When crews respond to a reported pothole location, they will also fill any other potholes in the vicinity while onsite.

When PBOT began tracking the city’s pavement condition in 2008, the citywide pavement network had a pavement condition index (PCI) rating of 76 (out of 100). A pavement condition index of 76 is an acceptable rating to keep pavement across the city in good condition, provided there is ongoing maintenance at an annual investment of approximately $100 million. In reality, funding allocated to paving maintenance in Portland between 2008-2024 has hovered around $25 million a year.

Today Portland’s network pavement condition index is at 53 (on the cusp of “poor”), which means that most pavement repair now requires a deeper treatment such as base repair and road reconstruction. Roads in poorer condition are more susceptible to potholes. As roads degrade, the cost to repair them increases. Potholes (averaging around 1 square foot in size) cost about $300 each to repair, while preventative pavement maintenance costs between $0.55-2.25 a square foot.


How to report a pothole

As crews transition back to regular work -- in addition to pothole patching -- we ask the public to be patient, as we continue to work through a backlog of reports.

PBOT is always there for the public.

Anyone can report potholes online at www.pdxreporter.org, via email at pdxroads@portlandoregon.gov, or by calling the bureau’s 24/7 maintenance dispatch hotline at 503-823-1700. Before reporting, it's a good idea to see if your pothole has already been reported by viewing PBOT’s pothole map.

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The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the city’s transportation system and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage, and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at portland.gov/transportation