“Tremendous” was the word Howie, a mechanic from N&M Auto Repair, used to describe the volume of pothole-related vehicle damage his garage was seeing.
From blown tires to damaged rims, Howie said, the roughly 40-year-old Long Beach Road business had three cars arrive within the past 24 hours when he spoke by phone to the Herald on March 1. Depending on the make and model of the car, he explained, those kinds of repairs could cost anywhere from $500 to $600 per wheel. The culprit, he said, was a gouge on the north end of Lawson Boulevard, according to the motorists he serviced.
As the winter wanes, pothole season arrives — and with it comes the associated roadway headaches. Responding to a Herald social media inquiry, Dayna Kashdan of Long Beach wrote, “Every road is horrendous. Everywhere!” and anticipating the coastal storm on March 2, Island Park resident Gloria Gunther wrote, “It will get worse.”
And get worse it will, according to officials from the Town of Hempstead, which maintains most of the streets in Oceanside and Island Park, since permanent post-winter road repairs will not begin until spring, when the weather has reached an appropriate temperature.
While April through November is peak road-repair season, according to Jon, owner of All Shore Paving, an Oceanside-based asphalt contractor, in the meantime the town repairs the roads temporarily with what is known as cold patch, a low-cost slurry of oil and recycled asphalt. “There’s nothing permanent with that,” he said.
Nassau County, which handles main thoroughfares in the two neighborhoods, has also been busy with temporary fixes. “Potholes are our road maintenance department’s top priority right now,” wrote Mary Studdert, spokeswoman for the county Department of Public Works, in an email. “We have crews out every day.”
In the Village of Island Park, deputy mayor and Commissioner of Public Works Joe Annarella said his department was watching the streets and doing repairs where possible. “If it’s under 45 degrees, we don’t fill them until it warms up to around 60,” he explained. “If there’s rain or snow, we don’t do it, because if it freezes it will bust apart immediately.” But he added that the workers do use cold patch in emergency situations such as deep craters, or in the aftermath of utility company repairs if their asphalt patches settle into the ground too deeply.
Annarella, whose department provides maintenance of Island Parkway, Warwick and Long Beach roads this year as part of an intermunicipal agreement with Nassau County, said he has not noticed a higher rate of potholes this season. Still, he encouraged anyone wishing to report one to call Village Hall or tell a village trustee or staff member.
Reporting does work, according to Island Park resident Kelly Ann Foster, who has been critical of the state of the streets in the area — particularly Austin Boulevard, a county road.
“Locally, potholes are everywhere,” she said in an interview. “But Nassau County and the town have been very responsive if you take the time to call and report them pothole by pothole.
“Conditions on Austin Boulevard in Island Park were particularly bad,” Foster added. “Potholes, street trash and shoulder dirt build up — storm drains so clogged they can’t possibly work.” But she added that once the problems were reported, the county deployed street sweepers and other crews. “The thing is, you’ve got to report and ask for services,” she said. “Then you get a response.”
More permanent fixes would take the form of hot asphalt patches, the most effective of which would be poured into squared spaces where the damaged section of road has been removed, Jon explained.
The town is in the process of taking inventory of damaged roads for permanent repairs in the coming months, according to town spokesman Michael Fricchione. The reason for the wait, he said, is to ensure the same sections of road are not repaired twice. According to its annual budget, since at least 2014, the Highway Department has set aside an average around $59 million for the repair of roadways.
While spring is around the corner, for the remainder of March, however, expect the holes to continue appearing.