How To: Request A Pothole Repair

Operation Smooth Streets

Have a pothole in your neighborhood or affecting your daily commute? You’ve got options.

Operation Smooth Streets is Philadelphia’s initiative to extend the life of roadways through service repair. According to the Philadelphia Streets Department, the city has filled more than 20,500 potholes in 2017 alone.

Who to Call

Not sure where to start?

The Streets Department is responsible for the investigation and repair of city roads, but will forward any misguided requests to the appropriate service provider. Potholes on state-maintained roads are taken care of by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot), and any reports found inside or within 18” of trolley tracks will be serviced by SEPTA.

Streets Department: Dial 311 or fill out a request online. There’s also an easy to use app available through iTunes and Google Play.

PennDot: 1-800-FIX-ROAD or on Twitter at @511paphilly

SEPTA: 215-580-7852 or online at

Know the Difference

Not all potholes are the same, and each requires a different level of service. When reporting an issue, be prepared with the closest address to the problem, and the type of hole you’re dealing with.

  • A pothole is small, spherical and a maximum of 10 inches deep. The concrete base of the road will be exposed after the asphalt has worn away.
    • Will be repaired within three business days
  • A cave-in, or sinkhole, is the older cousin of the pothole. The concrete base will have begun to crumble under the road, exposing dirt.
    • A cave-in isn’t just a road problem anymore. Property owners and utility agencies will be contacted to investigate repairs. The Streets Department website claims, “Every effort is made to address permanent restoration in a timely manner.”
  • Ditches are rectangular holes created by contractors such as utility providers and plumbers to run pipes and lines underground. When not filled properly, the hole can wash out completely or sink into the ground.
    • Will be repaired within 45 business days between July 1 and Nov. 30. During winter months, repairs are subject to the weather.

Unsure what you’re working with? Check out photo examples here.


-Text and photo by Brianna Spause.

Brianna Spause
Lew Klein Fellow for // Multimedia Journalist

1 Comment

  1. It was work done by the water department they did a fast patch up job it wasn’t permanent It was a big pothole last week and cars are running back over it it needs to be permanently patched up right The material is soft and the dirt is coming from below it Again

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