Clear skies let pothole patching resume
By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Robbie Dingeman
The city dispatched seven crews to fill potholes and patch rain-ravaged roads yesterday and — weather permitting — expect about the same number out again today.
State crews also got out quickly to restart big road projects that have been delayed for weeks by the rain.
Honolulu road maintenance division chief Larry Leopardi said the city tripled its response, with six crews working on potholes islandwide while an additional crew did "block-patching," which involves using even more asphalt covering a larger area, such as an intersection.
But Leopardi cautioned that more than 40 days of rain have taken their toll on the roads. "It's going to take a long time to recover from this," he said. "Hopefully, it will be dry for awhile."
Honolulu resident Tomer Okanin is among the drivers happy to hear that crews will be fixing the road craters this week.
Okanin spent part of yesterday taking pictures of a pothole he drove into around noon on Friday in Kaka'ako. Okanin knew there was a problem right after he hit the pothole, he said.
"Everything started to make noise," Okanin said. He went back to take pictures after a repair shop charged him $520 to fix the damage caused by the pothole.
The city and state do pay legitimate claims submitted by drivers whose vehicles have been damaged by problem pavement. The agencies need documentation, such as repair bills or proof of damage and a repair estimate, and an investigation could be involved to determine whether they have legal responsibility.
Over at the state Transportation Department, spokesman Scott Ishikawa also is hoping for dry weather, because the weeks of rain have stalled most road resurfacing.
Crews headed out yesterday on Pali Highway — townbound Waokanaka to Wylie — to resume work there.
"Expect to see them out there all week if the weather holds up," Ishikawa said.
By tomorrow, the state expects to be sending crews around the island to patch potholes. Ishikawa said crews decided to let the ground dry another day or two before trying to patch after seeing the rains wash away fixes each week.
"You do not repave in the rain," Ishikawa said. "It just doesn't make sense."
Leopardi said the weeks of stormy weather have worn out some of the crews, who have been working around the clock without a day off. So he's hoping for a break in the weather to allow a return to a more normal schedule for those who have spent weeks digging out of landslides, cleaning streams and clearing debris.
"We've been really burning the candle at both ends with our crews," Leopardi said.
Reach Robbie Dingeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.