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Spokane is making changes to address potholes

With Spokane’s ongoing freeze-thaw cycle and a booming population putting more wear on the roads, the problem of potholes isn’t going away.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Pothole season is always a struggle for Spokane drivers, but as our population continues to grow, the toll on area roads is getting worse.

The Spokane Public Works Department keeps track of 2,200 lane miles on city streets, about a third of them on main arterials, which see the most traffic. Marlene Feist, Director of Public Works for the city, said road maintenance is a perpetual need.

“We're excited to see growth, but it does take, it takes effort to expand our infrastructure to meet that growth,” Feist said.

With Spokane’s ongoing freeze-thaw cycle, the problem of potholes isn’t going away.

"Cold mix was was an OK solution in the wintertime, but lots of times would pop back up," Feist said. "So we have equipment now that heats the cold mix, which gives us a much better seal."

The City of Spokane said it’s also focusing now, more than ever, on prevention and changing the way it builds streets, starting from the bottom up.

“We use more base material, we make sure that we're compacting better, we make sure that we're using enough asphalt as our layers so that we can do a nice grind and overlay on a schedule, so that we avoid these things,” Feist said.

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Street maintenance projects are a big part of the city's ongoing 6-year plan. In just four years, from 2015 to 2019, the city spent more than $100 million on capital street construction projects like Monroe Street and Sprague Avenue. The city also spent another $3 million to $6 million each of those years on maintenance for Spokane's busiest arterials.

And those busy arterials are getting busier. For example, along one stretch of Division Street, the number of cars is steadily going up every year. In 2017, 44,000 vehicles drove that stretch every day. One year later, it was up to 46,000 vehicles, and by 2019, 47,000 vehicles drove that stretch. 

During the pandemic, the city stopped tracking that data, but when it starts back up again, officials fully expect these numbers to show even more growth. This is why the city says maintenance, and planning for it, will be key moving forward.

“We say after so many years, we're going to crack seal. After so many years, we're going to do a grind and overlay. After so many years, we're going to reevaluate does, could it take another grind? Or do we need to rebuild that street again? So we're trying to do these things on a schedule that allows us to keep the good work that we're doing and maintain it,” Feist said.

Spokane crews have already filled 850 potholes so far this winter, but they're also turning to technology in the ongoing fight against them. The city works with a company that drives around and captures defects in the street. They are also tracking where they filled potholes in past years and checking to see if bigger road improvement projects are planned for areas where potholes keep returning.

Feist says it all adds up to the goal of working smarter, not harder, as the city continues to grow.

“We can we think of streets as being something that has to be repaired all the time,” she said. “But if we're successful, the individual streets that we rebuilt do not need repairs all the time.”

How to report potholes in Spokane

People in the City of Spokane can report potholes online, via the city’s APP, or by phone.


  • Visit My Spokane 311’s website
  • Click pothole complaint
  • Add the pothole location
  • Add additional details
  • The severity of the pothole
  • A photo of the pothole if you have it
  • The last step is to add your contact info

MySpokane 311 App

  • Download the app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store
  • Click request
  • Click popular service requests
  • Click pothole complaint
  • Select service
  • Add the pothole location
  • Add additional details
  • A photo of the pothole if you have it
  • The severity of the pothole
  • Add your contact info
  • The last step is to review your report and submit

Call 3-1-1

People can report potholes that need repair by calling the City's Pothole Hotline at 3-1-1. People calling from outside the City limits can call (509) 755-2489.

The city also has a pothole tracker where you can see the work that has been done so far this year.

WATCH MORE: Washington ranked worst state for potholes

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