SDOT really, really wants you to report potholes

Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Director Scott Kubly fill a pothole. Image from SDOT.

If there is a persistent pothole that you find yourself swearing at every singe day, well, this is your chance to get it fixed.

SDOT has launched a renewed campaign to get people to report potholes so crews can go fix them. Reporting potholes really does work, so long as you’re reporting isolated potholes and not, like, a whole block of bad pavement.

The easiest way is to download the city’s Find It Fix It app. If you pull over next to the pothole, the app will geolocate for you. You can even add a photo if you want. There’s also this web form and good old-fashioned phone calling: 206-386-1218.

It is very easy, and the response time from road crews may surprise you (it’s not uncommon for the problem to be fixed within a couple days).

The long and cold winter did more damage to roads than the average winter, SDOT says, so they need people’s help locating issues. It’s much cheaper and more effective to get crowd-sourced data. And, of course, everyone loves when the city fills potholes! It’s the perfect transportation campaign for an election year.

But hey, if the city’s gonna fill a bunch of potholes, let’s make sure to report all the potholes in bike lanes across the city. Give yourself a couple extra minutes on your ride so you can pull over and file a report. Everyone else who bikes that way will owe you one.

More details from SDOT:

This week, the City of Seattle kicked off Pothole Palooza, a campaign to aggressively patch potholes across the city during the spring season. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is receiving much help from the community reporting potholes and our Pothole Rangers are using that information to map out a strategy as they move through the city.

Winter was longer, colder, and more rainy than usual which means residents are seeing a lot of potholes on our streets,” said Mayor Murray. “We are going street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, to fix potholes and make our streets safer for everyone—no matter where you live in Seattle.”

During the campaign, SDOT crews will be assigned to specific districts around the city. Crews from the Seattle Parks Department will also help with this response.

“We recognize that residents have been patient through a tough winter that’s resulted in an increased number of potholes and we want them to know that we’re listening when they report them,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “You’ve told us where they are, and we are marshaling our resources to fill them.”

Potholes occur when street pavement cracks and breaks because of water or traffic. Water can get under the pavement through cracks or from the side of the road. Over time, the water can cause the material under the pavement to erode, causing the pavement to sink down and break. During the winter, the water under the pavement can freeze and expand, and then thaw and contract. Many streets, particularly in the outer areas of the city, have a very poor underlying structure, or sub base, which reacts poorly to these conditions. This freeze/thaw cycle can cause the pavement to crack so that it deteriorates quickly under the weight of traffic, and then streets can seem to break out in potholes overnight.

Seattle has had an extremely wet and cold 2016-2017 winter season. Residents can expect to see more potholes in the winter and spring, following periods of cold temperatures and rain or snow. February and March are when we see the highest numbers of potholes. This past February was the wettest we have experienced in thirty years.

For more information about Pothole Palooza, please visit:

About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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15 Responses to SDOT really, really wants you to report potholes

  1. Joseph Singer says:

    ” so long as you’re reporting isolated potholes and not, like, a whole block of bad pavement.”

    The trouble is that I know a stretch of street close to me that has been patched with patches patching the patches. I’ve complained to essdot but their response to me was “it’s not a major arterial so don’t expect a repave.”

    You are right though that if you report they often will have potholes fixed in a couple of days.

    • Jonathan Mark says:

      The SDOT web site is quite clear that they do virtually no repaving of non-arterial streets. So was this winter really that exceptional, or are we just seeing exponential pothole proliferation due to neglect?
      ‘Seattle Department of Transportation generally does not have sufficient funding to pave non-arterial streets. Priority is given to arterial streets due to the greater amount of traffic on these streets and the importance to the community of keeping them in good condition. There are limited funds for portions of non-arterial streets used for “bus turnarounds” due to the extraordinary wear they receive.’

      • Bryan says:

        Neglect due to lack of funding is a lame excuse in this economy, and it is far more costly long term. Our elected officials need to address tax structure and budget priorities.

  2. Southeasterner says:

    It’s going to take days to photograph all the potholes on Leary. Will they at least provide traffic cones so we aren’t flattened while taking pics?

  3. Skylar says:

    What about the areas of Nickerson where the street is demonstrating the Cascadia Subduction Zone in miniature? Some of the concrete panels have been pushed 4+ inches above the adjacent panel. Is that a pothole, or something else?

    • Kirk says:

      Like the heavily heaved sidewalk on the Ballard Bridge’s southwest end right before the Merge of Death.

  4. asdf2 says:

    I was biking on Eastlake the other day, and that street is full of potholes, some them look quite deep and dangerous.

  5. JAT says:

    I was just doing some remedial listening to ex-mayor’s Mike McGinn’s former podcast on – he had Charles Muedede on who was saying celebrate the potholes as they make driving unpleasant…

    One of many places where his (Charles’) ideology loses me. I’m opposed to anything that induces me to swerve nearer clueless motorists…

  6. Matthew Snyder says:

    Why doesn’t the city make available the list of potholes that have already been reported?

    The software/database behind the Find It Fix It app has this capability, and all of the other cities using the same software do make these reports available online. But Seattle alone keeps its request log locked up, so rather than being able to quickly check to see what potholes have already been reported in your neighborhood (and to see whether the city is going to fix them or not), you can either ignore them, or file another, possibly duplicate, request for the same issue.

  7. ronp says:

    The heavy buses really tear up the asphalt at bus stop. My commute on Eastlake has a lot of those spots.

  8. bill says:

    I doubt this campaign will have much long-term impact. Pavement fails for a reason. Packing asphalt into a hole does not address the underlying reason for the failure.

    One example: A broken concrete panel at the Rapid Ride stop on Fauntleroy at Webster created a dangerous hole that forces cyclists into car traffic just when drivers expect bikes to move into the bike lane. The hole was patched last week. The patch is already busted. The concrete panel rocks when a bus drives over it. Nobody on the repair crew or higher up at SDOT took the trouble to diagnose the problem and observe whether it was actually fixed.

    • Joseph Singer says:

      What a silly comment. Of course, they are not *prioritizing* filling potholes over other more serious work. It’s something that needs to be done. Get real.

      • bill says:

        It does not need to be done if it accomplishes nothing lasting, has to be repeated again and again, and delays serious repairs. This is a PR stunt to distract us from the fact that the city has underfunded road repair for 30 years.

        In addition to the example I cited on Fauntleroy, the repairs on Colorado Ave S are already disintegrating. Again.

  9. CooperDavis says:

    I’m so glad this city is prioritizing pothole repair over preventable deaths and better infrastructure for all citizens. Embracing crowd sourced data technology and encouraging the use of a mobile phone app while driving is yet another genius effort by the city of Seattle to perpetuate car culture and generate the biased information on which they justify their decisions.

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