Streets Department Highways Unit - Review of Pothole Repair & Response

Why the Controller’s Office Conducted this Review

As part of the City Controller’s ongoing efforts to ensure public safety and quality of life in all Philadelphia neighborhoods and following a May 2016 NBC 10 report that highlighted issues with the pothole repair process, the Office of the City Controller reviewed the records of the Philadelphia Streets
Department to examine its repair process and response time in repairing potholes.

The pothole repair process is managed by the City Streets Department. The agency has long had a standard response time of three business days for pothole repairs. The media report, however, noted several instances of response times that took longer than three days as well as concerns about suspicious recordkeeping of its pothole repairs. The objective of this review was to ascertain the efficiency of the Streets Department pothole repair process and to formulate recommendations, when needed, for the agency to improve repair times in all neighborhoods.

What the Controller’s Office Found

After examining the records for 21,397 potholes filled between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016 maintained by the Streets Department, the Controller’s Office found the following:

  • A total of 4,798 pothole repairs, about 22.42 percent, were completed outside the three-day standard response time set by the Streets Department.
  • Fifty-two pothole repairs took over 100 days to complete.
  • The longest response time was 15 months, or 474 calendar days, to repair 11 potholes on a Fairmount Park road.
  • The Streets Department met its own standard response time in about 78 percent of the pothole repair cases examined for this review. The Department did not meet the response time in about 22 percent of the cases.

The Controller’s Office Recommendations

The City Controller’s Office recommends the Department improve management of pothole repairs by utilizing its internal computer system more efficiently and creating a priority list of pending repair calls older than three days. Additional recommendations can be found at the conclusion of this report.

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