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Councilman flip flops on pothole claims process

Posted at 3:09 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 19:41:59-05

Nearly three weeks after City of Cleveland council members praised a system to better protect drivers whose cars are damaged by potholes, NewsChannel 5 discovered that system has yet to respond to our own pothole complaint.

"It is unacceptable," said Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed. "We need a better system."

NewsChannel 5 first raised questions about the pothole claims process on Jan. 11 after we found out that double the number of claims were rejected than approved in 2014. In response, Reed and Council President Kevin Kelley complained that not enough drivers are reporting potholes to the city's 311 hotline, and they urged them to do so. That's because if a driver sustains pothole damage to his/her car, and the city has received a complaint about it, the driver has a right to be reimbursed by the city for repairs.

On that same day, NewsChannel 5 reported a pothole at the corner of East 14th Street and Carnegie Avenue. As recommended by Reed, we also got a tracking number.

In a separate phone call to the city to request an interview about pothole claims, officials said crews were only working to remove snow on that day and could not patch potholes due to the cold weather. But since then, the weather has changed.

"We've had days that are above average," Reed added. "This weekend will be up to 50 degrees. Clearly, the system we have in place now is failing you, failing our citizens. We at city council need to look at it and evaluate it."

With no progress and nearly three weeks passed, NewsChannel 5 called the 311 hotline back to check on the status of our pothole complaint. The call taker said it would be filled by Feb. 8.

The city has not responded to our request for an on-camera interview. But in a phone conversation, Dan Ball, the assistant director of media relations, said pothole claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. There is no specific timeframe in which the city must fill a pothole after a complaint is made about it. He also said most street crews are not filling potholes at this time as they are focused on snow removal.

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