Why Oakland is behind on goal to address potholes and repave streets

Lyanne Melendez Image
Saturday, April 13, 2024
Why Oakland is behind on goal to fix potholes and repave streets
While the city of Oakland has a paving plan to fix its many potholes and roadways, residents there complain that it's going at a snail's pace.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland has many problems, but none as bumpy as the pothole problem plaguing the city. While the city has a paving plan, residents there complain that it's going at a snail's pace.

Blame it on the rain. In the meantime, city officials are asking Oakland residents to have patience when filling those potholes.

But really, how long can a city and its people put up with this nuisance?

"Everyday, we see people come off the freeway. You watch them if you keep standing here long enough. You'll see them people swerving out, swerving over, they'll slow down, see? Everyday and if you're parked here, they will side-swipe your car. There have been many people who have had accidents," expressed Shanon Eggleston, an Oakland resident who lives on a street full of potholes.

We drove around Oakland for two days documenting what residents were experiencing.

We measured one pothole which came in at 55 by 22 inches.

Some neighbors have even spray painted around pot holes to make sure drivers see them ahead of time.

MORE: Pothole damage to your vehicle? Caltrans program may reimburse you up to $10,000

"I just got my tire fixed because this street has been messing up my tires," said Sonya Burke of Oakland who showed us her newly installed rear tire.

We went to Oakland's Department of Transportation. They're the ones coordinating the street repairs.

They sent us to City Hall.

We came to City Hall to talk to city councilmembers and found the offices were closed on a Wednesday. And not everyone is back in person.

Next stop, the mayor's office, except that it too was closed. Outside were instructions posted asking to "please ring the bell."

Someone eventually came out and referred us to a press person who then sent us information on the status of Oakland's five-year paving plan.

Here's the latest: "Work under the 5YP continues to be behind schedule primarily due to a slowdown in contract processing as well as some equipment challenges impacting in-house crews."

MORE: Less than 4% of Bay Area Caltrans pothole, other damage claims approved in recent years: data

Councilmember Noel Gallo agreed to meet us outside City Hall.

"This past year, we did have a good number of vacancies. I had to subcontract with even auto repair shops to make sure our vehicles that fix the streets are in operation," revealed Gallo.

That's because the city's truck repair shop cannot handle the overwhelming demand. We were told that there are 20 employees currently working on 700 pieces of equipment.

Gallo took us on a tour of the shop. "We're looking at vehicles that need to be served, so we can get them on the street," he explained.

For example, the city should have four designated city trucks that work exclusively to fill potholes. Here's their status:

One truck burnt in an accident. Two are currently waiting to be repaired as parts are hard to find. That leaves Oakland with only one working pothole truck.

So they rely heavily on private companies to do the work.

MORE: Potholes: What's causing them, and the science that could make roads more durable

We even found a truck from the Oakland Fire Department out of commission after the torsion bar broke when - you guessed it - the truck hit a pothole.

Warren Logan is running for a council seat in Oakland and has been outspoken about the city's pothole problem. The day we were supposed to interview him, he had an accident.

He texted us from the emergency room.

"I'm unfortunately not available because I'm... and the irony isn't lost on me -- just arriving at the ER having flipped my bike over hitting a pothole."

Councilmember Gallo agrees, Oakland lacks the necessary equipment to keep the city running properly.

"Yes, some have to be serviced but some are outdated. We need to buy new vehicles for our employees, that's the bottom line," added Gallo.

It's hard to buy new equipment when Oakland is facing a nearly $200 million budget deficit. Oakland had set a goal to repave 55 miles of roads this year. So far, it's only completed 10 miles. According to the Oakland Department of Transportation, the city will not meet this year's target.

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