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Milwaukee tops 2,500 pothole reports: What you should do if you hit one and want to be reimbursed

Milwaukee's DPW says the early warm weather in February, then back to freezing temperatures, has caused a lot of potholes to appear early in the season.
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Posted at 3:44 PM, Mar 16, 2023

MILWAUKEE — It is the time of year when potholes start popping up on Milwaukee streets, causing major concerns for drivers. The city has already seen more than 2,500 requests to fill potholes come into the Department of Public Works.

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Pothole on Bluemound Road in Milwaukee (March 16, 2023).

Shane Smith repairs vehicles for a living and plows part-time. Just last week he was forced to repair his own truck.

"Hit a big pothole on Bluemound and caused my plow to jump up into the air. When it came down, my left light snapped off the rail and it also broke my light bar bracket on the bottom of the plow,” said Smith.

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Shane Smith's plow was damaged after he hit a pothole driving on Bluemound Road.

He was able to weld and repair all the damage himself, but if he wasn’t a mechanic, it would have been expensive.

"It would have cost around $450 to $500 to have the average person repair it at a shop,” said Smith.

Milwaukee's DPW says the early warm weather in February, then back to freezing temperatures, has caused a lot of potholes to appear early in the season. So far this year DPW says they have received 2,600 service requests for potholes. That's an increase from this time last year when they didn’t hit 2,500 pothole service requests until April.

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Vince Marrari, service advisor at Kusch’s Automotive in Wauwatosa.

Kusch's Automotive in Wauwatosa says they are already booking out service appointments for next month.

"Winter really puts us behind because of the situation with the potholes and the roads,” said Vince Marrari, service advisor at Kusch’s Automotive.

He says if you hit a pothole and start having issues with your steering or start hearing noises from your vehicle, go to a repair shop to have your vehicle inspected. It could be unsafe to drive.

VIDEO | How to report a pothole:

What to do if you hit a pothole

"We see a lot of ball joints, sway bar links, control arms, alignment issues from potholes,” said Marrari.

So what do you do if you hit a pothole and it damages your vehicle? First, get to a safe place, then document everything. Take pictures of the pothole and the damage to your car.

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Car driving over potholes in the City of Milwaukee.

File a police report and contact the city, county or state, depending on the jurisdiction of the road you are driving on to apply to be reimbursed. However, typically a pothole has to be previously reported for the damage to be covered.

In 2019, the I-Team found no one who had reported pothole damage to the City of Milwaukee got reimbursed.

”Keep your eyes open right now until they get to patching it, because it seems like every winter plows break up chunks out of the road. So just be cautious and try to remember where they are,” said Smith.

The reason it is important to remember where a pothole is located is because Milwaukee wants people to report potholes here as soon as possible so DPW can send out a repair crew.


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