Pothole frustration leads to demands for a better fix


SEATTLE - Neighbors are grateful for the City of Seattle's "Pothole Rangers," those hard-working crews that rove city streets with a truckload of hot asphalt and repair potholes.

But some residents in West Seattle are asking for more.

"It's not just the potholes," said Beach Drive resident Jim Unland. "The city needs to recognize that some roads require more than bandages. Some roads need a complete makeover."

Unland has launched an online petition asking the Seatte Department of Transportation and three city council members to pave a half-mile stretch of rough road that runs past his home.

He's hoping to gather 100 signatures to pass along to city officials.

"They told me no, this wasn't going to be done," said the retired police sergeant, who is frustrated that the city repaved a small portion of Beach Drive last summer, stopping a block short of his address. "That was confusing to all of us who live here because the stretch from here to La Rustica restaurant is as bad, if not worse, than what they fixed."

Unland says he's most concerned about cracks, bumps and holes in the road that present a danger to the many cyclists who use the bike lane.

"You'll see there are stretches where a cyclist could easily get their tire jammed in there and go head-over-heals and get seriously hurt," he said.

While Unland remembers a city official told him last year there would be no re-paving in front of his home, SDOT revealed today that it will re-pave most of the portion he's concerned about.

Unland said he's pleased to learn of the plan, but implores SDOT to extend the project at least a block further to the restaurant. He plans to call the city and inquire tomorrow.

"If this was just a residential street and it was just five or six of us driving down the road, I never would have made an issue out of it," said Unland. "But this is a thoroughfare for a lot of cars, a lot of cyclists, and it needs to get repaired."

An SDOT spokesperson explained how the city determines where to focus re-paving projects, which provide a more permanent fix than filling potholes and cracks in the road surface.

Limited paving dollars force the agency to prioritize projects based on traffic volumes, transit usage and the current condition of existing pavement.

Busier roads get more attention.

Beach Drive, according to SDOT, does not have a major bus route, and traffic volumes are not as heavy as other roads that are in need of paving.

Some of those priorities this year include Roosevelt Way NE, Renton Avenue S., Meridian Ave. N., Spokane Street, Greenwood Avenue N. and Third Avenue.

The spokesperson adds the city has completed five small-scale paving projects on Beach Drive since 2011.

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