Pothole patrol crews across Orange County flooded with work after heavy rains

Heavy rains are leaving road hazards behind long after flooded intersections have dried and downed trees have been removed.

Work has quadrupled for Anaheim Public Works crews in the last two months as they hustle to fill crumbling holes in the roadways.

On average, 300 to 400 potholes are filled a month, city spokesman Mike Lyster said. In January, crews filled 1,600.

This month, Anaheim has filled 1,000 potholes marring its 578 miles of streets.

“Normally, potholes are not a very big issue, but once the rain comes, it really deteriorates the road,” Mike Ogle, Public Works operational superintendent, said.

While the welcome rain is offsetting the state’s decades-long drought, it’s taking a toll on roads and infrastructure. Several Orange County cities are seeing an uptick in pothole damage following the succession of winter storms that have hammered the region, some dropping 2 to 4 inches of rain in a day.

Commuters lost a major link between south Orange and Riverside counties when rain damage shut Ortega Highway down for three weeks in late January. Caltrans recently announced a two-mile stretch of the highway will be down to one lane this week for road repairs.

Ryan Chamberlain, director of Caltrans’ District 12, which includes Orange County, told county transportation leaders on Monday that crews have responded to 357 locations to deal with infrastructure storm damage across the state costing an estimated more than $600 million so far to fix.

He said the state typically budgets about $200 million for storm damage repairs, “so we are exorbitantly higher than that target.”

Caltrans, which oversees California’s highways, reported between Jan. 1, 2016 and Jan. 31, maintenance workers repaired 131,781 potholes statewide at a cost of $8.8 million.

In Orange County last month, 429 potholes required filling, costing the department $46,000. By comparison, Caltrans fixed 35 potholes on its 17 highways in January 2016, spending about $5,600.


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