After expensive winter, city turns to repairing potholes

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published April 16, 2014

ROYAL OAK — After one of the coldest and snowiest winters in Michigan history, the city is left to deal with the aftermath — potholes.

“Now, instead of the snowplowing being the problem, it’s the potholes that are the problem,” said City Manager Don Johnson during the April 7 City Commission meeting. “The kind of weather we’ve had this winter has just been horrific on the roads.”

Johnson spent a portion of the meeting updating the commission on the final damage that the snowstorms did to the winter maintenance budget.

“I think, at this point, we’re probably safe from having another one,” he said. “I’m almost afraid to say that aloud.”

For the city’s major roads, Royal Oak had budgeted $488,000 for winter maintenance. It spent $738,000 on major roads.

For the local roads, it budgeted $188,000. It spent almost $368,000.

Further, the amount in road funds that the city plans to receive from the state this year, about $230,000, is short of covering the deficit, which means the city will be dipping into the balance of its road fund.

Mayor Pro Tem David Poulton suggested that since the city is able to pay the winter maintenance bill, it should use the state funds this year on offsetting costs for residents, like the ones who live along Forestdale Road, who are paying to have their street repaired.

“Why can’t we somehow work out a plan to work and correct some of these roads?” he said.

Commissioner Jeremy Mahrle said he agreed that some residential streets, like Forestdale, are in dire condition.

“It’s a horrible street in desperate need of repaving, but where do you draw the line?” Marhle said. Most of council shared his view, and the discussion of Poulton’s idea went no further.

Reporting a pothole

As Department of Public Service workers search Royal Oak from south to north for potholes, the city is asking for the help of residents to report some of the more hazardous ones.

“If there’s something on a major road, or we get a report of a big one that someone has damaged their car on, then we’ll divert a crew to take care of that,” said Greg Rassel, the DPS director.

Residents who spot major potholes can call the city at (248) 246-3300 or enter the pothole on the city’s website using the Royal Oak City Services Online system.

Also on the website, the city is featuring a map of Royal Oak divided into grids showing where patchwork in the city has been completed. The shaded areas on the map are where DPS workers have already patched potholes.

With that, Johnson asked residents who see potholes in the shaded areas to report them to the city.

“Just because (the DPS workers have) been there doesn’t mean there are no potholes,” Johnson said. “New potholes are occurring all the time, and sometimes what we throw in gets washed out, as well.”