EDITORIAL: Pothole problems prove perplexing

Potholes are sneaky. They pop up all the time during the winter months as the temperatures vacillate above and below the freezing mark and plows go over them to clear snow and ice. If we’re lucky, we see them before we drive our vehicles over them. Many times we are not.

Hubcaps stranded on the roadside and frequent flats are a testament to how pesky a problem this is, while savvy motorists learn to avoid certain corridors at all costs. When the potholes get particularly bad, angry callers will beg Town Hall to get its act in gear and fix the problem.

Unfortunately, getting some potholes filled isn’t as easy as making a call or sending an email. The reason is because different highway departments maintain different roads, and some of the worst stretches in Albany County aren’t under the jurisdiction of the towns they’re in.

The Town of Bethlehem has been inundated as of late by complaints about the pothole problems on Kenwood, Delaware and Elsmere avenues. While the town would love to fill the holes, they can’t because New York State is responsible for them. And there is no telling when the state will send its Department of Transportation trucks out to fix the holes.

Bethlehem Highway Superintendent Brent Meredith told The Spotlight that the state isn’t obligated to do maintenance so “they can do it whenever they want, basically.”

Likewise, the Town of Colonie is limited to repairing the roads they own. The state is the one in charge of patching the potholes on main roads such as Route 9 and Central Avenue. That can lead to driver consternation.

“The state, the county and the town all have roads in this town. We all just maintain our roads,” said Jack Cunningham, the town Commissioner of Public Works. “People automatically assume that if the roads are in the town, then it’s the town’s responsibility. But what they don’t realize is the infrastructure that’s involved.”

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