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Harsh Winter Has Tri-State Area Residents Dodging Potholes, Digging Out Cars

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The wild winter is taking its toll on cars.

The swings in temperature have carved out craters in roads across the Tri-State Area and cars that were buried by plows now have a coating of ice, making for interesting escape plans. But New York State has some new methods to deal with it.

In Westchester, a stretch of potholes from the Saw Mill River Parkway onto the Henry Hudson Parkway southbound tied up traffic for hours Thursday morning, CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported.

In Manhattan, 56th Street off the West Side Highway is a mess, and 10th Avenue near West 26th Street is now home to several large potholes, keeping pedestrians and drivers on their toes.

“It’s very scary,” said Arkell Cox of Brooklyn. “Unfortunately in traffic, you pretty much can’t swerve. You’re going either going to hit a car or the pothole. There’s no choice.”

“I just hit a big pothole on this highway,” added Glenda Marrero. “There’s a whole bunch of potholes. It’s the worst.”

And as TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported, Brooklyn drivers will pay a price for seeing the tire-eating craters filled up. Emergency pothole repairs will force lane closures on the Belt Parkway right through the weekend.

“It’s like the perfect storm,” said Mark Palleschi of the New York State Department of Transportation. “If we’re not plowing, we’re salting, or getting the snow off the road, or filling potholes.”

And with road crews overwhelmed by all the work this winter, New York State is now turning to an experimental pothole machine. Crews in Nassau County used it along Northern State Parkway.

The machine allows its driver to do the job while sitting in a nice, warm cab.

“We call it the pothole killer,” Palleschi said. “It has a compressor on it that blows the hole clean, then drops in the emulsifier, then a lot of rock, then a combination of both until the pothole is filled.”

The machine is made in Pennsylvania, and the state has rented out this winter to decide whether to buy it. Desperate drivers could use the help as they try to maneuver the dangerous roadways with an eye out at all times for the other guy.

But for the potholes that have yet to be repaired, Robert Sinclair of AAA had some safety advice.

“There is absolutely no comparison with this winter compared to last winter or any other year. It is absolutely the worst that I remember seeing in terms of potholes,” Sinclair said.

He said if you have to hit a pothole, try to go slow.

“It’s when you emerge on that far edge of the pothole and hit that edge that you can cause problems to your wheels, tires, suspension, breaks, steering systems,” Sinclair said.

He also recommends leaving plenty of space between yourself and the car in front of you and make sure to keep your tires inflated.

Drivers across the Tri-State Area have been dipping and dodging potholes during their rides.

“I’ve been driving in the city my whole life, so I know how to maneuver, it’s only the non-drivers that don’t know what they’re doing that wreck up their cars,” said driver Kev Johnson.

Meanwhile, motorists in Washington Heights have been trying to dig their parked cars out of snow and ice.

Snow plows have pushed the snow up, burying some cars for two days or more, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported.

Getting out is now a major project.

“It’s back and forward…it’s a very slow go,” said Washington Heights resident John Such who spent more than an hour trying to free his car.

Once drivers get their cars out they face another challenge: finding available spots when they return home, Slattery reported.

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