The city slashed the number of workers filling potholes just before this year's brutal winter left roads resembling the surface of the moon.They stopped fixing the train system due to budget cuts in the 70's, it fell into complete disrepair and now it costs much more than it would had they kept the upkeep going.
The Department of Transportation began five-day furloughs last month for hundreds of road repairers in an effort to save $1million, the Daily News has learned.
The cutback took effect as the response time for fixing potholes has nearly tripled since fiscal 2007 from 2.1 days on average after a complaint is filed, to 6.1 days this fiscal year, city stats show.
The cost-cutting effort has left New Yorkers fuming as streets fall into noticeable disrepair.
"It's an irresponsible act," said Joe Thompson, a 72-year-old retiree from Allerton, the Bronx, where "you can't duck away from a pothole without falling into another one."
Mayor Bloomberg "may be saving the city some money by not filling the potholes," Thompson said, "but he's costing the people more money to fix their cars."
City lawmakers questioned the wisdom of the cuts after severe snow caused potholes to erupt like acne all over the Big Apple.
"The snow removal process does not end when the snow is gone, but when the potholes are filled," said City Councilman James Vacca (D-Bronx), chairman of the Council's Transportation Committee.
"We have to commit to having all hands on deck to attack potholes that are already becoming craters," Vacca says.
The Bloomberg administration initially proposed laying off 138 road workers but reached a deal with their unions on furloughs instead. Approximately 600 road repairers are losing one day's pay every two weeks in the first quarter of this year.
The furloughs come as the Department of Transportation is not at full strength. Roughly 100 seasonal employees are off the job until next month, when pothole repair season normally begins in earnest. And they will return a week later than normal to fulfill the furlough requirement.
"It's ridiculous," said Joseph Puleo, vice president of Local 983 of District Council 37, which represents highway repair workers. "They provide an essential service. They're needed. The streets are riddled with potholes."
Short-sighted and self-sabotaging indeed, but at least hedge fund criminals like Whitney Tilson and bankster criminals Like Jamie Dimon don't have to pay more in taxes.
And frankly, isn't that all that matters anymore?