This winter, people on the East Coast endured a “polar vortex.” Now motorists are dodging gaping bunkers in a “pothole vortex.” Recognizing that municipalities are working hard to fix the extreme number of damaging and dangerous potholes on their roads, Delaware County Council is offering assistance through the county’s Liquid Fuels Fund.
Last Wednesday, County Council Chairman Tom McGarrigle announced Operation PAT (Pothole Assistance for Taxpayers), a grant program that allows each of the 49 municipalities to apply for Liquid Fuel Funds for the specific purpose of repairing potholes.
“We’ve all encountered an extreme number of dangerous potholes. Drivers need the skills of a Grand Prix driver to avoid the holes, and when they hit them, they have to pay to replace flat tires, bent rims and broken axles,” McGarrigle said. “This is not only hard on everyone’s public works budget, but it’s a public safety issue and County Council wants to help its municipal partners cope with the pothole problem.”
The 2013-14 winter was one of the worst on record for snowfall and the need to salt, plow, re-salt, re-plow, and then repair damages to the road.
Like craters on the Moon, some residents have started naming some of the larger potholes. County Council announced Operation PAT in Ridley Park, standing beside a pizza-sized pothole.
“Now that spring is near (officially starting on Friday, March 21st), our municipalities are left to struggle with the spiraling cost of road salt, road crew overtime and street repairs,” McGarrigle said. “In difficult economic times for local governments, these unexpected costs add to the burden on local taxpayers.”
Each year, County Council receives funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Liquid Fuels Program, which funds municipalities’ construction, repairs and maintenance of public roads and bridges. The amount of the allocation is based on a formula of population and miles of roads.
Dennis Carey, director of the Delaware County Department of Public Works, said repeated freezing and thawing of roadways has exacerbated the deterioration of the roadways. This year, he said, there has been a “cumulative effect that has increased the amount and the depth of the potholes.”
Roads are also subject to “crocodile cracking,” the precursor to potholes.
County Council announced it is making about $250,000 in grants available to local municipalities. This will be a supplemental allocation of 35 percent of the regular Liquid Fuel funds allocated on an annual basis.
Delaware County is one of, if not the only county in Pennsylvania, that allocates a percentage of its Liquid Fuels Funds to local governments instead of keeping the total amount in the county fund.
Delaware County allocates about 70 percent of the funds to municipalities for road repairs. The remaining amount is used to fund the design, construction and repair of more than 40 county-owned bridges.