Staten Island Councilman Oddo Exploring Cutting Edge TechnologyBy Elise Finch

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a high-tech solution for a decidedly low-tech problem: could infrared rays make potholes a thing of the past?

It’s no secret that potholes are a problem in New York City. Staten Island Councilman James Oddo said Friday he’s been bombarded with complaints from drivers.

“I get constituents who say, ‘yeah, Jim, you got DOT to come down and fix the pothole on Monday, but by Friday it was a pothole again,’” Oddo told CBS 2’s Elise Finch.

But now, there may be hope. Oddo invited a New Hampshire company to do a demonstration of what they call the future of pothole repair. With Department of Transportation officials watching, the crew showed how their stainless steel heating panels use infrared radiation to warm the area around a pothole, making it quicker and easier to fill and rake the hole, and allowing the compactor to completely seal the new asphalt to the old.

Supporters of infrared pothole repair say the real secret is in the seamless finish.

“Unless you actually heat the existing asphalt around it, there’s going to be a seam. So with an infrared machine you’re actually heating around the repair as well as the repair. So when you’re done there is no seam, so water can’t get back in there, freeze and split it,” said Roger Filian of Kasi Infrared.

Each infrared machine costs $150,000, but should require less labor, time and machinery in the long run. Instead of a four-person crew, it will only take two people, 20 minutes to fill a single pothole and the equipment can be used no matter how cold it gets outside. This technique uses less than half the asphalt of traditional methods, doesn’t require noisy jackhammers and people can drive over a pothole immediately after it’s been treated.

“We wanted to see what the new technology looked like and it seems like infrared has some virtues,” said DOT Staten Island Commissioner Thomas Cocola.

“Maybe we’ll have a new tool in trying to reclaim our streets,” Councilman Oddo added.

The councilman said he is now pushing for a pilot program using the infrared technology.

Oddo said he plans to monitor the potholes that were filled Friday to see how they hold up through the winter months.

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Elise Finch