Houston Potholes Tracker

Frequently Asked Questions

What you have been wanting to know but didn’t know who to ask …

What is a pothole?
A pothole is a hole in the roadway pavement that may vary in size and shape.  A pothole forms when water has seeped under the pavement and into the road base.  As vehicles run over these weakened areas, the pavement disappears and the hole gets larger.

In the City of Houston, a pothole is considered any area of missing or severely deteriorated pavement that is up to about 5 feet by 5 feet.

Why are there so many potholes in Houston streets?
With about 16,000 lane miles of City streets, potholes will appear in many locations.  Most cities expect to see more potholes in the winter and spring, following periods of cold temperatures and rain or snow. However, with our weather, Houstonians see them year round.  Many streets, particularly in the older areas of the city inside the loop, have an aging underlying structure, or sub base, which reacts poorly to these conditions and increases the number of potholes that develop.

All Houstonians are encouraged to report potholes to the City by calling 311, emailing 311@houstontx.gov, online at www.houston311.org or downloading the 311 app from google play or itunes, so we can fill them as                
quickly as possible.

You filled a pothole, but a few days later, there it was again. Why don’t your repairs last longer?
Weather conditions during the pothole repair, traffic after the repair, and natural ground settlement generally determine how well the patch will perform.  While many potholes may perform well over several months, or even years, where underlying roadway problems exist, pothole patching is a temporary repair.  If the cause of the pothole is not corrected, such as water getting under the pavement, pothole patches may fail, or more potholes will continue to form. The long-term solution is to repave the street, and in some cases, to reconstruct the street from the ground up, and from curb to curb.

PWE says it fills potholes within three business days, but the pothole is still there. What’s going on?
There are several reasons why we may not have made the repair you requested:

  • Weather Delay: Potholes cannot be filled if it is raining, if the pothole itself is filled with water or when the temperature is below 45 degrees. Flooding or extended periods of rain or freezing temperatures can create a backlog of repairs. When work is delayed, the requested repairs go into queue until weather conditions improve.  The crews then work overtime to resolve the backlog of repairs.
  • Can’t find the pothole: Sometimes customers give incomplete or insufficient information and we cannot locate the potholes they are reporting. This is why leaving your name, phone number and email address or using the Houston 311 App is so important. The more contact information we have, the easier and faster it is to contact you for a better description of the location.
  • Other Jurisdictions: Some locations in the City of Houston are actually owned and/or maintained by other entities such as TxDot, Harris County, or private owners.  When citizens report potholes on roads that are outside of the City of Houston’s responsibility, we forward the information to the right entity.
  • Not a Pothole: Utility covers: Private utilities such as phone, gas and electric have service entry points in the public street.  When these entrances to the underground utilities become worn, the owners of the utility must repair the cracked and/or damaged pavement around the rim.  When the reported pothole is the result of these utility covers, we will forward your report to them for repair.
  • Off to the side of the road: Sometimes a pothole forms off to the side of the roadway, especially when drainage is inadequate and the area is used for parking. These areas are usually the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to maintain. We have inspectors who verify if the pothole is within the improved street, or if it is within the part of right of way that is the responsibility of the property owner.
  • Can’t be repaired as a pothole: Some defects that are reported as potholes are really some other kind of problem that cannot be repaired as a pothole and require more extensive repairs. See When It’s Not A PotHole for more information.

How do I know if what I am reporting can be repaired as a pothole or not?
We do not expect everyone to be able to distinguish among pavement defects. There are many types of road maintenance service that can be requested through 311. We encourage you to report any type of pavement defect that is of concern to you, especially if it appears hazardous. If it is not a pothole, we will respond and let you know your request has been elevated to the appropriate service type. Please see When It’s Not A PotHole for more information.

How many potholes does the City fill? 
The City of Houston fills approximately 50,000 potholes each year. More than 6,000 pothole repair requests a year are submitted by the public.

These repairs are made with asphalt and are normally repaired with a one person pot hole patch truck. This one person truck makes the repair using a liquid asphalt emulsion and small stone aggregate. Usually a repair made by the one person truck is complete within 15 minutes after arrival at the location.

What did Mayor Turner do to change the way potholes are fixed?
The goal is to fill potholes by the next business day. This does not include pavement defects that cannot be repaired as potholes.

What causes a pothole?
Potholes occur when street pavement cracks and breaks because the underlying road base has been compromised, usually by water.  Traffic running over this area causes the pothole to grow.

Water can get under the pavement through age cracks or from the side of the road. Over time, the water can cause the material under the pavement to erode, causing the pavement to sink down and break.

Traffic that is too heavy for the pavement’s design can also result in cracks. Large volumes of traffic or heavy trucks and buses using a street not designed for this load can cause the pavement to crack and break apart. Winter freezes and heavy rains can exacerbate these conditions and make it seem like potholes break out overnight.

Is there a long-term solution to potholes?
The long term solution is to continue to make investments into our infrastructure through proactive treatments such as street sealing, crack filling, joint sealing, and pavement overlay to extend the pavement life, and plan replacement / reconstruction of our aging pavements.  Potholes will not usually form on pavement that is in good condition, that protects the underlying base from water seeping in, and that is designed for the type of traffic that uses it.