Pothole Damage Reimbursements Unlikely

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

It's the perfect weather for the worst potholes imaginable.

"This time of year when it's freezing and thawing, it's a never ending cycle--even roads we just went on, we'll have to revisit a few days later," said Ron Lacasse of East Lansing Public Works.

East Lansing gets two or three phone calls a day from people requesting specific pothole repairs, but that's not all.

"Nowadays we get some [complaints] over Facebook, we get some through email--that type of thing," said Lacasse.

The city has two to four crews working to fill the holes.

However Lansing's call center is much busier. It gets about 50 pothole complaints each day-- sometimes multiple times for the same pothole.

"Everyone's frustrated with this," said Scott House, who works at Lansing Public Service. "We're coming off a long winter. We had a lot of snow and we're seeing the unfortunate consequences."

If pothole damage is a concern, do not hold your breath. In the last two decades, only about three or four people have been awarded money from the city for damage to their cars.

Cities, counties and the state, they all have similar pothole reimbursement policies.

"[People] have to fill out different forms and basically prove that the pothole was there, the city was aware of it and failed to do our job," said Ron Lacasse, explaining the process. "But we're pretty aggressive with our pothole program and so I don't expect to get any claims that would be substantiated to that degree."

So far East Lansing has received 5 claims for damage. Zero met the standard and none were paid out.

"We are hoping to get through the worst of [pothole season] during the rest of this month and April, but like I said, we are not holding our breath for anything after this year," said Lacasse.

This year MDOT has gotten about a dozen claims in the tri-county area from people requesting reimbursement for pothole damage. Zero have met the transportation department's standards to be paid out.


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