Drivers' pothole claims costing Seattle pretty penny

Drivers' pothole claims costing Seattle pretty penny »Play Video
SEATTLE -- Potholes are popping up on a daily basis, wreaking havoc on drivers and their cars and putting on a dent in the city's coffers.

As the city looks to make road repairs, some drivers who filed claims are wondering when the city will be making repairs to their wallets.

"I'm driving the speed limit, and all of a sudden, 'Boom, boom!' Front tire, rear tire on the right side hit the pothole," said driver Lynn Ertsgaard.

The big, deep holes are costing drivers hundreds of dollars in repairs each year.

"Driving in the city is bad enough with all the cars around, and having to worry about whether or not you're gonna hit a pothole, which now I do more often, it's a pain," said driver Joshua Renz.

Potholes aren't a new problem for the city, but their number has spiked.

"There's a real backlog in our ability to fill potholes," said Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen. "The average is usually about 200 backlog. Now we have a backlog of about 500 complaints."

According to the Seattle City Clerk's Office, the number of claims against the city of Seattle for pothole damage has dropped, from 181 in 2008 to just 108 in 2010. But the amount in settlements paid out during that same time has more than doubled.

The figure has left a lot of drivers scratching their heads.

"If they fixed the potholes, they wouldn't be putting out the money to pay for damages and accidents, and things like that," said Ertsgaard.

The Department of Transportation says they've increased pothole patrols crews from three to nine, and usually make repairs within 72 hours of being notified on the location.

But for drivers who've sustained damage, they're tired of waiting and say it's time for the city to pay up.

"I'm happy the city is responding to the pothole dilemma," Ertsgaard said. "However, the fact that my claim has been under review for over a month now. I'm a little bit frustrated with the delay, and I'm hopeful that within the next few days something will happen."

The Seattle City Council says the potholes are a symptom of an underlying problem with city streets. Council members say they plan on going to the voters sometime this year to ask for additional funding to help repave and maintain those roads.