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City Council Holds Hearing Aimed At Improving Pothole Repair System

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia streets are riddled with ruts but they're not necessarily potholes. So says a Streets Department official who testified Wednesday at a city council hearing on potholes. He says getting roads to stay smooth is complicated.

Councilman David Oh called for the hearings in response to what has turned from a seasonal problem into a year-round safety issue. He thinks private contractors could do a better job. But Streets Department Chief Engineer Steve Lorenz, asked to grade the city's pothole performance, gave it an A-minus.

"I take a lot of pride in what the street department crews do. We're doing the best we can with what we have," he said. "We are working with all the utilities to do appropriate restorations."

Lorenz says the worst problems are in the areas with the most development going on, so, in a way, the road work is a sign of the city's economic health, though he admits, that's little solace.

He says crews fill 25,000 to 30,000 potholes in the spring, getting to 85% of them within three days of their being reported, and finishing up by May. Still, he agrees streets are not in good conditions.

"I would give the conditions a subpar level," Lorenz said, "maybe a C-minus."

But he says there are other factors, notably utility work that leaves streets torn up for days or months, and later filled by private contractors. Councilman Bill Greenlee says that may be...but...

"People don't know the difference between potholes or plumbers ditches or wear-outs or that sort of thing," Greenlee said. "They have a problem with the street and they want it fixed."

There was no agreement, though, on how to do that consistently.

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