Report ranks Washington as #1 state with worst pothole problem

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SEATTLE — A new report ranks Washington as the #1 state in the nation when it comes to the worst pothole problems.

Minnesota, Michigan, Tennessee, and Indiana round out the top 5 of the 15 worst states.

Three Washington cities also did not rank well for pothole problems.

Spokane ranks #6, Yakima ranks #7 and Seattle ranks #9 in pothole problems. New York and Los Angeles took the first and second spots out of the top 10 cities listed.

According to the report by USA Today Blueprint, the average pothole repair bill is $457 with pothole-related car repairs up 57%.

Last May, a huge pothole on the onramp to northbound SR 99 from the eastbound West Seattle Bridge caused the ramp to be closed for days while crews made repairs.

So, what causes the ever-present pothole?

Three things are usually present in the creation of the nuisance: Surface cracks, traffic, and water.

Water seeps through cracks, and moisture that doesn’t drain away goes through repeated freeze-and-thaw cycles. During freezing temperatures, expanding ice lifts the pavement.

When ice melts, a gap is left under the pavement, which collects more water. During the next freeze, the gap will get bigger.

Traffic driving over the compromised pavement eventually causes the surface to break and collapse into the gap below.

To come up with the states and cities with the worst pothole problems, USA Today Blueprint looked at Google Trends reports from January 2020 to October 2023.