Bay Area pothole problems show improvement, caution remains

The Bay Area has experienced a recurring cycle of rain, primarily in squalls, leading to persistent drainage and wet roadways. The moisture softens the asphalt, creating potholes as vehicles cross the roads.

However, according to Caltrans, pothole issues across the region are not as dire as last winter.

"Last year was a really bad year, with the amount of storms that we had. We had over 23,000 potholes that we dealt with last year and over 8,000 of them were in the month of January when we were really getting pelted with rain. We've dealt with a little over 2,000 potholes around the Bay so far," said Caltrans Public Information Officer Bart Ney.

That is also true in San Francisco.

"The numbers are quite significantly different than last year. Last year, during those three months of winter storms, like from the end of December to the end of March, we fixed almost 5,000 potholes which is a huge amount. That's usually what we do in about nine months," said Beth Reubenstein of the San Francisco Public Works Department.

But no one is taking a victory lap yet.

"It's something that we have to watch. It's very difficult to predict where water will go and what damage will actually take place," added Ney.

Potholes cost tens of millions of dollars in damages to vehicles in California. Hitting them at high speeds, whether in a car or on a bicycle, can result in life-altering injuries or fatalities.

Over the past five years, the city of Oakland has paid out $27 million in personal injury claims for potholes, uneven sidewalks, and fallen tree branches. This figure includes a $6.5 million settlement paid to an Oakland woman who was paralyzed when her bicycle struck a pothole on Grizzly Peak.