City of Buffalo continues battle with pothole pockets

Main Street by Anchor Bar just one of several spots; $12 million project to begin in 2020

Mike Baggerman
May 22, 2019 - 3:00 am

Potholes along Main Street near the Anchor Bar. May 21, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Potholes are nothing new for Buffalo and Western New York, but plenty of people have complaints about them.

In the City of Buffalo, one of the notable areas where drivers run through the potholes is at the Main and North Street intersection in front of the Anchor Bar.

"They're rough," one local driver told WBEN while he waited at the light in the intersection. "I actually plow the sidewalks through here. They rock the machine every single time and I think the plow is going to come off."

"They're horrible," another woman said. "I probably have to change my tires every couple of months after. That's just these potholes. If you drive on the west side or east side of Buffalo, they're horrible. Right here on Main Street, on a one-to-ten, this is a six. The others are a ten."

Anchor Bar, the famous wing joint known as the birthplace of the chicken wing, sees thousands of tourists each year. Those tourists can get their wing experience in, but also get to experience the potholes too.

Potholes along Main Street near the Anchor Bar. May 21, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

When WBEN asked Anchor Bar Assistant General Manager Tony Watkins how bad they are over there, he sighed and said "terrible".

"For years, we've been dealing with the potholes, especially right here at Main and North," Watkins said. "It's like they've been here forever. We have called, I know I personally have, the 3-1-1 line to try and get someone out here to fix the potholes. But at the end of the day, it seems like it's not getting done."

He said employees have torn up their cars on the potholes getting to work.

Watkins worried that the potholes can ruin the Buffalo experience for out-of-towners and that the eye sore in front of their business negatively affects their business.

"Something happens to somebody's car probably once a week," Watkins said.

Watkins, though, said he has confidence that the City of Buffalo will repair the holes.

"Everything is a process," Watkins said. "Like Coach McDermott says, everything's a process. It's a process here too. Like I said, I have the utmost confidence in our city and that they'll do what's right by the City of Buffalo."

The City of Buffalo allocated funds in the budget, which takes effect on July 1, for street repairs, including potholes.

"(Pothole repairs) is something that is always ongoing for us," Acting Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Michael Finn said. "We're always working on improving the roadway conditions throughout the year and addressing the ongoing issues that we've discussed before."

Finn said the other challenge with pothole repair is when utilities, which operate under the roads, fail.

As for pothole repair on Main Street, Finn said that spot is on the city's radar.

"There's an area where there are some potholes but that area also has some roadway defect from failed utility cuts and other things that need a different measure to be taken than just what we do internally with filling potholes with our crews," Finn said.

The city's budget next year will feature a software system to better fight potholes. It allows them to classify roadway defects, allowing public works officials to apply the proper treatment.

"From a motorist standpoint, someone driving in a car or riding a bicycle or riding the bus in the city...they hit a bump and think it's a pothole and report it to 3-1-1, which is what we have to do and certainly appreciate," he explained. "From our standpoint, to improve the ride-ability of that road, there's any number of treatments that are necessary to address that. That's something we're looking to feature in next year's budget."

Finn said the city remains committed to fixing potholes within 48 hours of when they are reported. However, he said roads are sometimes beyond what the public works department can do internally. If it is beyond what the city can do, they will contract out the work.

The city is also working on a major streetscape design for Main Street from Goodell to Ferry. The $12 million project in that corridor will transform the road to look similar to Niagara Street.

"That will be a complete street when we get that into the shape it's going to be for the future," Finn said. "That work is scheduled for a construction start in 2020," Finn said.

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