The District government, which waged an all-out war on potholes last year, now is winding up its second prewinter offensive against cracked and pitted pavement.
A year ago, Mayor Marion Barry claimed victory after the city's $1 million campaign used 6.5 million pounds of hot asphalt to patch potholes, seal cracks and repave several major roadways. Repair crews responded to nearly 2,000 complaints last year from pothole-weary residents.
This year's assault on potholes is described as a mop-up operation aimed at filling gaps that cropped up after last year's drive had ended. Part of the current effort is targeted against residential streets that may have gone overlooked during last year's attack on arterials.
City officials say they are "guaranteeing that every pothole" reported by the end of September will be repaired by Oct. 15. To report a pothole, residents may phone a special "hot line": 767-8527. Calls will be answered from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
Officials say the District faces fewer potholes this year than last, partly because of last year's repair work and partly because of relatively moderate weather last winter. The American Automobile Association has reported similar trends throughout the Washington area.
As evidence that the number of potholes is decreasing, officials pointed to a sharp drop in calls to the pothole hot line. Instead of hundreds of complaints, a city spokeswoman said, the hot line now is receiving only "a handful."
In announcing this year's "second annual $1 million pothole prevention program," Barry said: "We have ended the era of deferred maintenance." Officials said they plan to repair the city's streets before the onset of winter weather, when pothole patching is problematic.