- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2002

D.C. pothole crews will soon be patrolling the city with shiny new Christmas presents: four pothole-patcher trucks specially outfitted to tackle the District's bumpy streets.
The city's Department of Transportation recently purchased them for about $100,000 each, and officials plan to have the trucks up and running by the end of the month. They also must train 15 to 20 of the city's 85 street-maintenance employees to use the vehicles.
"It allows us to do everything with one piece of equipment. It does it all," said Robert Marsili, the city's chief of bridge and street maintenance. "It gives us all the tools we need to do our job."
The new pothole patcher has many advantages.
Crews have been using two to three vehicles to repair potholes: a dump truck to carry the asphalt, another truck to carry a third crew member, and, sometimes, a third truck to carry additional tools or traffic lights.
The new truck carries a full crew of three persons and has traffic directional lights mounted on the back. It is expected to cause less congestion than conventional crews and to save city resources.
The patcher truck also maintains a temperature of 325 to 350 degrees in the asphalt hopper, which Mr. Marsili said is crucial to keep the asphalt soft enough to mold and manipulate into a pothole.
When using dump trucks, keeping the asphalt hot is often a challenge, especially in cold weather, when it tends to clump.
The new trucks won't necessarily speed up the patching, but the repairs should prove more durable, Mr. Marsili said.
"We're going to get a much better repair, a much more permanent repair," he said.
A cold or hot mix of asphalt slides out of a funnel in the back of the truck when it is tamped down with a plate compactor that rides on the back. Various other tools and gadgets adorn the truck's exterior.
Each of the trucks will be assigned to cover two wards in the District. Mr. Marsili said he hopes to buy more, but in the interim the trucks probably will be supplemented by traditional road crews during peak season.
The purchase of the trucks is another sign of the city's commitment to improving its roads, said Mr. Marsili, who came to the city nearly two years ago after 22 years as chief of road maintenance in Baltimore.
"Our mission is to get the streets as smooth as possible," he said. "It's a big challenge."
The city maintains 600 miles of roads, and potholes have been a source of complaints by drivers. Road repairs were rare during the 1990s, when the city experienced a financial crisis.
"There was a lack of investment in maintaining for many years," Mr. Marsili said. "One of the reasons I came here was the commitment to maintaining by this administration."
When Mr. Marsili took over in February 2001, there were 45 city employees assigned to street maintenance. These crews are responsible for clearing the streets of snow in addition to repairing potholes. Under Mr. Marsili, the work force has nearly doubled, to 85, and the budget has increased from $1.5 million to $2.5 million during the past three years, according to Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Rice.
"Where they were and where we are now is like night and day," Mr. Marsili said.
There is a street-maintenance crew of six in each ward every day, and Mr. Marsili said that after catching up with repairs from the recent snow and ice storms, his crews are meeting their 72-hour turnaround-time goal on all repair requests.
Mr. Marsili has created ward-based crews that he hopes will be able to focus on preventive maintenance during the summer.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide