Newsom on potholes: We're working on it 

Demands for immediate pothole patchwork are being juggled with priority repairs, said the head of The City’s Public Works Department on Friday.

On Friday, Mayor Gavin Newsom took a "road resurfacing tour" to show potholes being filled after being identified by callers to the 311 hotline, which has received more than 100 calls for pothole repair requests since coming into service a few weeks ago.

Newsom also used the opportunity to highlight the fact that The City has contributed new local taxpayer funds this fiscal year — $18 million — in order to repave 315 street blocks that have deteriorated.

"The streets of this city are in disrepair, and we need to make historic investments to get them back into shape," Newsom said, adding that more general fund money would be allocated to repaving the streets in the years to come. "We’ve got 12,458 blocks in our city and over 6,500 need to be completely repaved."

This fiscal year, $1.6 million has also been budgeted for repairing potholes, said Newsom.

A report released by The City’s Budget Analyst’s Office in January said the Department of Public Works was bureaucratically slow and disorganized. For example, a street improvement project on Cesar Chavez in 2004 was delayed by 781 days and saw 25 percent of its budget eaten up by overruns caused by contract changes. The report noted that it was difficult to tell whether projects were completed efficiently because the department didn’t track project labor costs and productivity.

A new computer tracking system has since been put in place, said agency’s director, Fred Abadi, who stepped into the top post in March of last year.

The Department of Public Works has also been working on a plan that will be released in a few weeks for doing the pothole work citywide systematically, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood and prioritizing which roads need the most work, said Abadi.

"We don’t want to schedule fixing potholes based only on phone calls; it’s not an efficient way to do it," said Abadi, who said DPW works to respond to every pothole concern within 48 hours. "We have a very proactive, comprehensive plan for fixing potholes."

A crew of at least three DPW workers in a patch truck are sent to each pothole-repair job, according to Abadi. The department has three pothole patch trucks; in the future, one will be designated to respond to complaints and the other two will do the prioritized pothole repairs.

Working to fill a pothole near the corner of Bush and Gough streets, DPW worker Dan Cavan said his crew fills approximately 15 to 20 potholes a day.

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