Potholes lead to hazardous conditions around Staten Island
by Bradley Popkin
Potholes are a driver’s worst nightmare. Many potholes begin to appear during the winter because of the salt and slushy mix of snow that erodes pavement. They bother over eight million New Yorkers a year, which includes the 14,000 plus that attend the College of Staten Island.
The thousands of drivers who commute to school from the five boroughs and even New Jersey are forced to deal with treacherous conditions.
Potholes located at both entrances, around loop road and in the gravel lot have caused drivers to slow down and often swerve out of the way.
“We’re more interested in getting the roadway corrected,” said Assistant Vice President for Campus Planning, Stephen Brennan. “You want to get those potholes fixed first and then we’ll move to the lots.”
On December 26, grounds’ crews were dispatched to survey the entire campus and review what areas of the campus needed attention. Areas most in need of work were the loop road behind the library and along the stretch by the S buildings. Thirteen potholes inhabited the roadway.
There were also three found in the lot behind 6s and four in the lot by the recreation center. It’s also possible that areas marked contain multiple
In order to fix the potholes, about $18,000 has been dedicated by Auxiliary Services. $900 is spent on each skid, which contains 56 bags of asphalt. So far, Brennan estimates his team has went through twenty skids. According to Brennan, crews work eight hour days between 7 and 3.
Vincent Bono, Director of Building and Grounds, alleges that “all asphalt plants in the north east are closed in the winter. Cold patches are the only way to make repairs temporarily,” said Bono.
Cold patch, also known as cold mix or cold asphalt, was first recognized as a way to make road repairs quickly because it can be applied right from the container without heating. Cold asphalt can be applied directly to potholes with little or no pre-preparation work.
According to VP of Finance & Administration Ira Persky, the school expects to receive asphalt between late March and early April. The gravel lot is seen as a last resort to students. It is problematic to many drivers because of the moon like craters inhabiting the pavement. For those like Junior, Chris Maniscalco, having to park in the lot of doom is extra problematic. Maniscalco drives a Fiat.
“I try to park in the lot by 4s,” said Maniscalco.
Robert Pashayan, a Junior, drives a Nissan Sentra. “The pothole situation is bad and with the light situation at night it’s a lot worse,” said Pashayan.
Some like Sophomore Tony Onofrio actually prefer the gravel lot and don’t necessarily mind it. Then again, not everyone drives a Chevy Avalanche. “I came to the gravel lot because it’s more accessible and closer to my classes,” said Onofrio.
Potholes form when rain seeps through cracks in the pavement and freezes. When water freezes it expands and can push the gravel below the pavement even further down. As cars drive over the weakened pavement it begins to erode. “We believe to date we have fixed approximately 200 potholes,” said Brennan.
The loop road hasn’t been paved for roughly twenty years, according to Brennan. “We’ve had numerous discussions about it [paving loop road],” said Brennan. “It all comes down to economics. The VP of Finance is working pretty hard to get funding.”
The budget for this winter’s cleanup has doubled, according to Persky. Auxiliary Services typically allocates $75,000 for the winter but Persky expects that to hover around $150,000 by the end of the season. The amount of salt brought in has also doubled going from 1,700 tons of road salt; normal has been 300 to 400.
Because of the abnormal amount of snow that has fallen around the state, building and grounds crews have logged many hours on campus. The college pays for their salary but in overtime situations; auxiliary services will pay for 75% the cost and reimburse the college.
But CSI is just a portion of the Staten Island community, the other hundreds of thousands of residents have seen just how disastrous the roadways can be. An investigation done by the Staten Island Advance regarding Department of Transportation repairs returned mixed results. On January 17, the Advance reported nine potholes to the DOT website. After claiming they inspect and repair potholes within thirty days, only four of them have been fixed.
One reported pothole in front of 187 Signs Rd. in Bulls Head, which clearly fits the agencies description, was not fixed and listed as repaired when checked. The DOT defines a pothole as “a hole in the street with a circular or ovular shape and a definable bottom.”
“To be ‘actionable,’ the pothole should be at least one foot in diameter and three inches deep.” Since the beginning of the year, the DOT claims to have repaired 18,200 potholes on Staten Island.
Photo Credit to Matthew Bergman