The Pothole and The Socialite


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The winter has been brutal for the roadways downtown


Three weeks ago Louise Grunwald fell into a pothole on the East Side and fractured her ankle.


"It was noon on a beautiful day, I guess I wasn't paying attention," said Grunwald, an Upper East Side socialite who was married to the diplomat and former Time editor Henry Anatole Grunwald.


Three days later she was telling the story to friends over dinner at her home on East 70th Street. Among her guests: Amanda "Binky" Urban, the literary agent who has represented authors like Cormac McCarthy and Brett Easton Ellis. "The next morning she was walking to work and she fell into a different pothole," said Grunwald. "I sent her to the same doctor, she had an X-ray, and ironically she had the same fracture."


Both potholes happen to be on the Upper East Side, but the problem is everywhere. And while potholes have always been a constant of city life, particularly after a brutal winter, their spread has fed a perception that some city services have frayed in the transition from mayors Bloomberg to de Blasio. "I was born in New York, there's always been potholes, but I've never been injured by one," said Grunwald. "The roadways are in very bad shape, in all neighborhoods."


A review of 311 data from the city shows exactly where the downtown pothole problem is concentrated.


In Community Board 3's territory, which has about 163,277 residents, there were 1,943 complaints to 311 regarding streets and sidewalks in the last six months. Such complaints include everything from sidewalk conditions and sewer maintenance to street light issues and potholes.


? There were eight pothole complaints on 1st Avenue between East 7th Street and East 10th Street.


? There were 14 pothole complaints on Avenue C between East 14th Street and East 8th Street.


Council members representing districts in downtown Manhattan failed to respond to questions regarding potholes.


Nicholas Mosquera, a Department of Transportation spokesman, said the city's roadways experienced "significant wear-and-tear due to the winter weather."


He said the DOT plans to resurface 1,000 lane miles as part of a comprehensive roadway maintenance plan developed in response to this year's record-setting winter. Since Jan. 1, DOT crews "have been hard at work repairing more than 207,100 potholes citywide," said Mosquera.


According to the DOT, 177,413 potholes were repaired in 2013. It takes DOT crews an average of 2.5 days to respond to a report of a pothole.


"As you know, the cold, wet winter weather also contributed to increased pothole formation compared to years when the winter has been mild," said Mosquera. "This is the sixth snowiest winter on record and the agency is working hard to address potholes on residential streets and arterials as quickly and efficiently as it can."


Some complaints are addressed and closed, according to the 311 service request map. However, the map doesn't always accurately reflect the reality on the ground. For instance, the six pothole complaints originating at the intersection of 72nd Street and 2nd Avenue have since been addressed, according to Mosquera, but don't show up on the map.


As for Grunwald's pothole, he doesn't know if it's since been fixed. "I haven't been back to check," she said.


We did, and, as of press time, it's still there.


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