By ANTHONY WARREN
Senior Staff Writer
With both pothole patchers up and running at press time, it appeared the city of Jackson was finally seeing the machines pay off.
Through September, the city has filled some 20,546 potholes, twice the number public works filled in each of the past two years, and the most the city has paved since purchasing the pothole machines in 2015.
That year, the city council approved purchasing two pothole patching devices, each of which ran around $200,000 apiece.
AT the time, then Public Works Director Kishia Powell said the machines would make road crews more efficient and allow the city to fill more potholes than by using traditional work crews alone.
The first machine was delivered in late 2015, and the second followed early the next year.
Even with both patchers in place, the number of potholes being repaired dropped like a rock.
In 2016, the city paved just 25,239 potholes, down from the roughly 30,000 repaired the year prior.
In 2017, 11,375 potholes were fixed, and in 2018, the city logged 10,512 repairs, according to data obtained through an open record request.
No data was available for the months of September, October, November and December 2017, or January 2018. Zero potholes were filled in December 2018, records show.
This year, repairs have picked up. In January alone, crews repaired 2,413 potholes, one fewer than the ones repaired in February, city documents show.
Through September, the city averaged about 2,283 pothole patches per month.
Based on those numbers, public works could complete more than 27,300 repairs, about 2,000 more than in 2016, the first year both pothole-patching devices were in use.
Based on the cost of the pothole machines alone, each pothole repair made since January 2016 has cost the city about 17.4 cents.
However, that cost does not include materials or labor. Nor does it factor in the number of repairs made while the machines were down.
The machines have been down numerous times since purchased, likely contributing to the decline in repairs made in 2017 and 2018.
Jackson purchased its first patching device, a Leeboy RA 400, in early 2015, at the behest of Powell. The $210,000 device was delivered that November or December. In November 2015, the council purchased a second pothole machine, a PB Loader, for around $180,000.
The Leeboy can be operated by two people, fewer than four or five sent out on typical work crews.
Sitting behind the wheel, a worker can clean out the pothole using an air gun, and then can fill it with a mix of white rocks and epoxy. The truck then rolls over the pothole to even it out.
The other piece of equipment, the PB Loader, is designed to make it easier for traditional crews to unload fill materials to use in potholes.