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De Blasio vows to meet record pothole challenge

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joins

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joins a roadway maintenance crew on 69th Lane in Maspeth, Queens, as they fill a pothole on Feb. 20, 2014. "I used to be a gardener," de Blasio said. Photo Credit: Newsday / Charles Eckert

Vowing "weekly pothole blitzes," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that roadway crews would be out in force in the coming weeks and months to repair city streets pockmarked by the worst winter in years.

Already this year, the city's transportation department has filled a record 113,131 potholes -- not including the one de Blasio personally helped fix yesterday in Maspeth, Queens.

He said the city has filled more than double the number of potholes compared to this time in either of the two previous winters.

The "freeze-and-thaw cycles" from the seven storms have been particularly brutal to the city's more than 6,000 miles of streets, the mayor said.

"The winter of 2014 has literally made it into the record books," de Blasio said. "I wish it hadn't, but it has."

He said an additional $7.3 million would be allocated to the department to pay for the work, which will also include the resurfacing of 1,000 lane miles by summertime. The city also will hold a competition for developing a more durable asphalt.

For his turn at pothole-filling, de Blasio sported a fluorescent orange jacket to join a roadway repair crew filling a 3-foot-wide-by-3-inch-deep crater. On cue, he swept away the debris, shoveled in hot smoldering asphalt off a truck. Laborers applied sealant under the supervision of the deputy commissioner for roadway repair and maintenance.

"I used to be a gardener," de Blasio said.

The spectacle of New York's 109th mayor fixing a Queens roadway drew a crowd of gawkers from the neighborhood.

"Look, the mayor's filling the pothole! Oh, my God!" Sylvia Alloggiamento, who lives around the corner, shouted to her daughter, whose home is two houses from the former pothole.

"Yesterday, when I came around, I saw to my daughter, 'There's a pothole deeper than the Grand Canyon," said Alloggiamento, a school secretary. "This must have been a special one."

De Blasio's transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, later explained that they picked this particular pothole because it was on a street less traveled that wouldn't snarl traffic during the repairs.


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