Pothole hell on wheels for boro

Amauri Peralta is not a happy customer after his front right tire was bent out of shape by a tire-eating pothole on the FDR Drive just short of the WIllis Avenue Bridge.
Photo by Ben Kochman

Bronx motorists are having a hole bunch of trouble getting around this winter.

The season’s crop of snowstorms have been tearing up the borough’s roads as drivers tear out their hair over flat tires and bent tire rims from potholes.

The city’s Department of Transportation said it has dispatched over 1,000 crews to patch up the potholes.

For frustrated drivers dodging the craters, it’s been a bumpy ride.

“The infrastructure of the city right now is terrible,” said Marvin Kamiel, who says his morning commute south on the Major Deegan Expressway from Van Cortland Park to Port Morris has ballooned from 15 minutes to 45 minutes this winter as drivers slow down and swerve to avoid holes in the highway.

Motorist outrage

DOT says its crews are on the case. Since Jan. 1, the city agency has filled more than 75,000 potholes across the five boroughs, including 14,370 in the Bronx.

Its average response time to a pothole complaint —which can be made through 311 or at DOT’s website The Daily Pothole — through January was a mere 1.72 days, said an agency spokesman.

But motorists whose vehicles have been battered by the potholes are still fuming.

“They come out of nowhere, and then BANG,” said Amauri Peralta of West Farms, whose front right tire was bent out of shape by a gaping hole in the right hand lane of the northbound FDR just before the Willis Avenue Bridge.

“When you hit it, you know you hit it.”

“My rim is all bent,” said Edward Kopelowitz of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, who was behind Peralta in line at Gino’s Tire Repair in Port Morris after striking the same FDR crater. “It’s a disaster.”

Booming local biz

Both men were part of a line of damaged cars snaking around the block on St. Ann’s Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard Thursday, Feb. 6. Business was booming at the tire repair shop, where a bent rim repair costs a minimum of $20.

“We’ve had a steady stream of customers all day,” said Renato Lopez, while his father Francisco —an Ecuadorian immigrant who was a bodybuilder in his youth —used a miniature sledgehammer to beat Kopelowitz’s bent rim back into place.

Never-ending fight

The DOT’s ongoing effects to patch the city’s bruised streets will continue, especially with yet another power-packed snowstorm in the forecast.

In the Bronx, the agency’s crews spent Sunday, Feb. 9 resurfacing portions of the northbound Bronx River Parkway between the Cross Bronx Expressway and Sagamore Street, closing two of the parkway’s three lanes in the process.

On Monday, crews began to tackle the Sheridan Expressway. southbound service road between Westchester Ave. and Freeman St. and Exterior Street between E. 138th St. and Third Avenue.

Besides the cost of all that manpower, the potholes may end up costing the city cold hard cash. Motorists whose vehicles are damaged by potholes can file a claim with the City Comptroller’s office to get reimbursed.

At press time, only 61 motorists had filed with the Comptroller since Nov. 1. But an agency spokesman said more claims were likely on the way.

Motorists have 90 days after an incident to file the proper paperwork.

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail her at bkochman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.
Francisco Lopez shows off his tire fixing form at Gino’s Tire Repair shop on Bruckner Blvd. in Port Morris. They’ve been doing a steady business with a mean Mother Nature this winter.
Photo by Ben Kochman

More from Around NYC