Comptroller: Defective roadways cost New York City $138 million over last 6 years

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

NEW YORK (WABC) -- With more than 12,000 claims for damage to cars and trucks, nearly 6,000 personal injury claims and close to $138 million paid out in settlements over the past six years, New York City's pothole problem is costing New York City a fortune, according to a new ClaimStat Alert released Thursday by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

"Potholes are serious trouble," he said. "They deflate tires, break axles, and twist ankles, often at a significant financial cost to the city. The ClaimStat Alert we are the Department of Transportation a road map to identifying the trouble spots across all five boroughs so that they can do the important work of repairing roadways now, before winter weather comes storming back to make our city's streets even worse."


The ClaimStat Alert examined the defective roadway problem on a city-wide basis, identifying the roadways that garnered the highest number of claims from FY 2010 to FY 2015. The three worst roadways for potholes were:

--The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which had a total of 422 claims during the six year period

--The Grand Central Parkway, which had a total of 433 claims during the six year period

--The Belt Parkway, which had a total of 706 claims during the six year period

Trip and Fall

Pedestrian-heavy Manhattan led the way in trip and fall claims, with 1,832 claims over the past six years. The top three roadways for trip and fall claims were:

--3rd Avenue in Manhattan, with 103 claims

--2nd Avenue in Manhattan, with 107 claims

--Broadway in Manhattan, with 195 claims


Snowfall levels are a strong predictor for the volume of pothole claims. Last year's harsh winter generated the second-highest number of defective roadway property damage claims in the last four years. The heavier snows seen in 2011 and 2014 also resulted in peak years for claims:

--In FY 2010, 51.4 inches of snow fell and 2,292 claims were filed

--In FY 2011, 61.9 inches of snow fell and 2,823 claims were filed

--In FY 2012, 7.4 inches of snow fell and 1,098 claims were filed

--In FY 2013, 26.1 inches of snow fell and 1,073 claims were filed

--In FY 2014, 57.4 inches of snow fell and 2,955 claims were filed

--In FY 2015, 50.3 inches of snow fell and 2,045 claims were filed

Additional Data Points

Stringer's analysis found that from FY 2010-2015 there were:

--12,286 defective roadway claims for property damage, and 1,549 settlements for defective roadway claims worth a total of $1.5 million

--5,913 claims for personal injuries, mostly trip and falls, related to defective roadways, and 2,681 settlements for personal injury claims worth approximately $136.3 million

--48 percent of those settlements were for $5,000 or less and just 7.9 percent were for more than $100,000


While DOT filled over 74,000 potholes in the first four months of FY 2015, the average time to close a pothole work order in the same time period was 6.7 days, nearly triple the 2.4 days it took in the previous year.

"The City has taken a proactive approach to improving pothole maintenance, including pothole blitzes, targeted repaving, and material enhancements, and I commend DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for all of her efforts," Stringer said. "However, filling potholes remains an uphill battle."

Additional steps that could be taken include:

--Exploring a complete reconstruction of certain city streets - a tactic that initially costs more than repaving, but that could save taxpayers money in the long haul

--Continuing to pioneer the use of new and more durable materials such as rubberized asphalt and recycled plastic in road resurfacing

--Re-evaluating DOT's procedures to ensure that utilities properly reconstruct City streets following work that involves excavation of roadways

--Ensuring street repairs are completed as quickly as possible so that pedestrians don't have to combat uneven road surfaces.

"While City streets might never be completely rid of potholes, we are working with DOT to make streets safer for New Yorkers whether they're on two wheels, four wheels, or on foot," Stringer said. "I applaud DOT for the great work they do, and we look forward to continuing provide them with the data they need to get ahead - and stay ahead - of New York City's pothole problem."