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Pothole headaches harder to cure on private property

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A large pothole in the parking lot of the Greenwood Best Buy store on Monday.  Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
A large pothole in the parking lot of the Greenwood Best Buy store on Monday. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

Part of the road exiting Greenwood Park Mall is blocked off on Monday because of large potholes.  Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
Part of the road exiting Greenwood Park Mall is blocked off on Monday because of large potholes. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

A turn lane leaving the Greenwood Park Mall parking lot has been blocked off for weeks because of gaping potholes several feet wide.

A few holes opened up during the winter, and workers patched them as best they could in the cold weather. But winter dragged on and then was followed by rain, so the patches broke up, and the holes got wider. Now, the lane is closed, and Simon Property Group is hiring a company to repair the damage, spokesman Les Morris said.

Across the county, parking lots, strip malls and access roads into businesses are pocked with holes and cracks.

Businesses often don’t have a full-time crew of maintenance workers like a city or town, so potholes on private property may go unfilled for weeks or months, allowing them to grow.

City and town street departments can’t do any repairs on private drives or parking lots, but they do receive calls about those properties. Franklin got about 10 calls this year from people reporting potholes on private property, Franklin street department operations director Andy Duckworth said.

If you notice a pothole at a grocery store or shopping center, you should call the store or talk to a manager to let them know about it, businesses said. Potholes can open suddenly, so a business might not know about a particular hole, especially on a large property like the mall, Morris said.

Potholes on private property typically take longer to fix because a business or church doesn’t have a staff devoted to searching for them and fixing them, businesses said. For example, Franklin street department workers will drive around the city throughout the winter with a truck full of patching material and fill holes, Duckworth said. The city has the materials needed at the street department garage, and the quick response helps prevent small holes from getting larger, he said.

But a shopping center or business doesn’t have the same resources. Greenwood Park Mall managers and security officers drive around the property every day to look for potholes and can report those to Simon maintenance, Morris said. But a security officer doesn’t have a shovel and a cart full of patching material, so that repair might not happen for two or three days, he said.

Simon Property Group will hire a construction company once per year to repave an area or dig out and fill a wide or deep hole with hot-mix asphalt, which is a more permanent fix, Morris said.

“The temporary fix, even though we don’t have a street department, we do have a professional staff that can go and handle these things,” Morris said.

Canary Creek Shops in Franklin will have to do that type of extensive repair this summer. The shopping center shares a maintenance worker with other locations, so a pothole could sit for a week before the worker makes it to Franklin to fix it. The snow and frigid weather was particularly harsh this year, and by March, the holes in the parking lot had become so wide and the stone under the asphalt also was starting to crumble, Canary Creek Shoppes vice president Roger Curry said.

The company brought in workers to fill the holes with gravel and smooth it out as best they could while waiting for asphalt plants to open in the spring to put down a smoother, more permanent fix, he said. But it was a rough ride for drivers to get to businesses in the strip mall, including restaurants, a salon and auto parts store.

“Every couple weeks we would put gravel down and level it. When you drive by it now, it’s just a Band-Aid,” Curry said.

Repairs also can be delayed depending on who owns a property. For example, this winter, the Kroger located near Emerson Avenue and County Line Road had one lane of its parking lot roped off while waiting for repairs on a hole that was nearly as wide as the lane.

The company can send a worker to patch holes at locations it owns, but other stores are in leased space in shopping centers, so staff has to report the issue to the owner and wait for the fixes to be made, spokesman John Elliott said. Repairs can only happen as quickly as a worker can get to them, he said.

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