Photo by Wayan Vota on Flickr.

Over the next month, DC plans to fill thousands of potholes around the District. Can they actually do it? I need your help to find out.

To cyclists in the District, potholes aren’t just minor annoyances, they’re pervasive predators. As one who bikes to work and just about everywhere else, I’ve long complained about our city’s pockmarked roads and the dangers they present to bikers.

That’s why I was excited to learn about Washington’s fifth annual Potholepalooza, an aggressive District Department of Transportation (DDOT) road repair initiative that encourages residents to report potholes. Between April 22 and May 22, DDOT will endeavor to fill all reported potholes within 48 hours, 24 hours faster than usual. DDOT claims to have filled over 21,000 potholes since the inaugural Potholepalooza in 2009.



I’ve decided to put the program’s efficacy to the test. I kicked things off last week by reporting two particularly craterous potholes: a trash-filled chasm outside of the New Executive Office Building on 17th Street NW and a perilous pit in a crosswalk on Macomb Street NW near Connecticut Avenue and the Cleveland Park Library. I was thrilled to see both holes patched within two days.

However, it takes more than just a few filled potholes to make a palooza. Over the next four weeks, I will be biking all over DC to find and report as many potholes as possible. I will track all of the requests to see if and how quickly the potholes get filled, and how well.

I’m interested in measuring the overall responsiveness of Potholepalooza, but also whether certain areas of the city or certain types of streets receive preferential treatment. My hole-goal is to report at least 500 unique DC potholes by May 22. As of today I’m up to about 50, thanks in large part to Macomb between 34th and Connecticut.

I’m only one man on two wheels, so I’m asking for your help, Greater Greater Washington readers. If you see a pothole, report it to DDOT and see if it gets filled. Post the results in the comments, including the hole’s location and how quickly and how well DDOT fills it. I will include your results in my survey and post a final assessment when Potholepalooza is over. I will also post a few periodic updates in the coming weeks.

You can report a pothole to DDOT via Twitter and Facebook, by emailing Potholepalooza@dc.gov, by calling 311, or by using 311.dc.gov. I’ve been using the latter because they provide a unique tracking number and send email updates for every request. You can also track the progress of a pothole using a special pothole GIS map.

I will only be reporting legitimate holes in city streets, not smaller ruts or grooves. I will also refrain from reporting any gashes that are a direct result of ongoing road construction.

Let’s fill some holes!

William Petrich moved to Washington in 2011 after attending the University of Michigan. He lives in Woodley Park, works for the American Institute of Architects, and commutes between the two on his bright green Chicago Schwinn.