Long Island drivers suffering from pothole plague

Another brutal winter, another trail of roadway destruction left behind. This past winter in particular left Long Island’s roadways obliterated by cracks and potholes and Long Island residents desperate for repairs.

Five months into the year and Long Island is still fighting a plague of potholes. Due to budget restraints, budget cuts and time constraints, elected officials are having a hard time fixing these broken roads, leaving Long Island drivers, and their vehicles, to pay the ultimate price.

Potholes form when water seeps into roadway cracks and freezes, expanding the roadways with it, and then thaws, leaving behind a gaping hole where the frozen water once was.

PC: Emily Benson
PC: Emily Benson

According to a study by the Law Office of Michael Pines in San Diego, potholes are rated number 19 of the top 25 causes of car accidents. Potholes are also detrimental to any vehicle, and can put enormous strain on your tires, wheels, and suspension. A direct hit of a pothole can result in a loss of tire pressure/ tire air, and usually requires attention and immediate replacement.

According to analysis by TRIP, traffic on New York State’s highways increased 21 percent between 1990 and 201. In 2012 alone, around 213,000 vehicles used the Long Island Expressway daily between Exit 37 and the New York City line. With such an increasing presence on their roadways, Long Island’s roads are taking on even more wear and tear. Neglect of these increasing numbers will only lead to worse consequences for drivers and their vehicles.

Kenneth Schwier, service manager at Stony Brook’s Village Automotive Center repair shop, said that because each vehicle is unique, the range of damage that could happen to one’s car or truck varies from person to person.

Largely due to the large amounts of snow and ice from this past winter, Schwier says a higher number of cars than usual are coming in this year with problems caused by potholes or cracked roads. Schwier says there is a good chance that any damage done will be costly.

“We just had one vehicle come in from road problems and that was around $1,000,” said Schwier. “Officials are slow to fill in the potholes so they just sit there.”

However, elected officials are trying to battle these excessive potholes just as much as residents, but are losing due to lack of funding.

PC: Emily Benson
PC: Emily Benson

Glenn Jorgensen, Smithtown’s superintendent of highways, said that their budget has been getting slashed more and more each year. The amount got so low that Jorgensen had to request additional funding at the last board meeting, but even that won’t be enough to fix the roads that need the most help.

“Years ago we use to get $500,000, but the town board controller cut it down to about $265,000. This year they gave me $150,000 and I went through that pretty fast obviously and I had to request another $100,000,” said Jorgensen.

Each year, the Smithtown highway department lays out a road program listing all the major roadways that need to either be paved, micro sealed or completely reconstructed. The 2015 road program  has hopes of repairing roads in Smithtown, Kings Park, Commack, Saint James, Nesconset, San Remo, Hauppauge and Fort Salonga.

PC: Emily Benson
PC: Emily Benson

While patching and repaving these roads is important, experts say that the best thing that can be done for damaged roads is to prevent things from getting worse.

Former NYC Transportation Commissioner, Lucius T. Riccio, said neglect, not winter, is the primary cause of potholes in an interview with Newsday.

“There are many roads that get through the winter without potholes. That’s because they’ve been resurfaced on the proper replacement cycle and maintained,” said Riccio. “Preventive medicine is the best medicine for people, and preventive maintenance is the best medicine for roads.”

Stony Brook University officials say that they are taking prevention into serious consideration with their plans to repair campus roads.

Terence Harrington, Stony Brook University’s Assistant Vice President for Facilities and Services, said he has been surveying the campus roads and noting areas that need patching.

“To prepare for next winter we are continuously inspecting our roads and walkways for any major issues and repairing them before the issue becomes larger,” said Harrington.

PC: Emily Benson
PC: Emily Benson

For Long Island drivers, it does not matter how the roads get fixed just as long as they do.

“It’s definitely a safety hazard because you don’t want to damage your car but at the same time you have to be mindful of other drivers,” said Domnick  Raymond, a freshman psychology major at Stony Brook University. “I understand that there is a lot of congestion on these roads. I wish they would work on them more so safety could be better and it’d be a more enjoyable ride.”

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