The required road repairs this year come on top of massive overspending by state and local governments on snow removal because of more than two dozen separate storms that required salting and plowing.
Stateline, the daily news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts, reported last week that Virginia would spend at least $100 million more than the $157 million it set aside for winter maintenance. Maryland’s expenses were expected to hit $130 million, nearly double its five-year average of $70 million. The states planned to use money previously designated for spring and summer maintenance to cover the added costs.
And, pothole-induced damage can be costly to car owners. Nationwide, Mr. Townsend said motorists will collectively pay $6.4 billion for pothole-related damage to vehicles this year.
Locally, D.C. drivers will share $311 million of that bill, or $833 per motorist, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Mr. Townsend said tire issues could result in bills ranging from $50-$500, depending on the tire and the extent of the damage.
“If you rip the tire, you have to replace the whole tire,” he said. “If you drive on it, you could do damage to the shocks or suspension system.”
Serious damage to the steering or suspension system could result in bills as steep as $2,500.
Mr. Townsend said the severity of the pothole problem can be measured two ways. One way is to count the potholes. Another way is to count the number of drivers who call for tire service assistance.
AAA can testify to the latter, as the group has recently seen an increase in those calls for help.
This year, the motor club received 2,651 requests for tire services in the District alone — a 19 percent increase over last year.
The good news is that the bout of below-freezing temperatures that marked the early spring is expected to move out of the area by Thursday, to be replaced by more seasonable weather.
Once that happens, crews can repair the damage — not a moment too soon for transportation officials.
“In this situation, we want to repave, and we can’t really do that in this kind of weather,” Mr. Sanders said. “Ideally we want to have a smooth roadway.”