Back-Seat Driver

Heavy rains sprout potholes; here’s where to call to get them fixed

Caltrans workers fill a pothole on the Capital City Freeway. If you see a pothole developing within Sacramento County or city limits, call 311 to request a repair.
Caltrans workers fill a pothole on the Capital City Freeway. If you see a pothole developing within Sacramento County or city limits, call 311 to request a repair. Sacramento Bee file

Heavy rains are taking a toll on local roads. Sacramento County officials say they filled 7,000 potholes on local streets in the past three weeks, compared to 4,000 filled during the same period last year.

“Some newer pavement sheds the water just fine, but some older pavements rut a little here and there,” county road maintenance manager Brian Shine said. “The water stays in the cracks and starts the deterioration.”

On sunny days, crews do permanent fixes. Otherwise, they compress some temporary asphalt and come back in the spring to reassess.

If you see a pothole getting serious in your neighborhood, you can call 311, or 916-875-4311, or go online to

City of Sacramento road maintenance supervisor Jose Sanchez said the same situation applies on city streets: “The water gets under the cracks, softens the base, and trucks and cars break up the asphalt.”

If you call the city, also at 311, Sanchez says crews will fix or temporarily patch potholes within 48 hours. “Just call them in,” he said.

Transit Connect Card

Nine transit agencies around the region have started testing the new Connect Card, a type of debit card you can use now to ride buses and rail throughout the six-county area.

Anyone interested is invited to try them. “It’s a soft launch; we’re still refining the user experience,” said Monica Hernandez of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, which is overseeing the effort. “We’re asking riders to tell us about their experience.”

If you do, they’ll sign you up for periodic prize drawings for Amazon gift cards. Information is online at

Bike sharing

Bike-sharing programs have been popular in many cities, allowing people to rent bikes for short periods from bike-docking stations around town.

Now Sacramento is trying to start its own program. City officials have an interested provider, a company called Social Bicycles, but have not finalized an agreement. To close the deal, it appears Sacramento needs to find a sponsor willing to pay $1 million to $2 million a year for advertising rights, sponsors with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments say.

Sacramento wants to pattern its program after one in Portland, Ore., that has GPS devices on the bikes, allowing renters to pick up and leave the bikes at regular bike racks as well as at docking stations. If you leave it at a bike rack, you’ll pay slightly more.

But people who pick up a bike at a regular bike rack and return it to one of the bigger docking stations will get a discount off their rental price.

For information, go to

Autonomous cars

Last month, in one of Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s first initiatives, Sacramento joined with local entrepreneurs to pitch downtown as a national test site for autonomous cars, also known robot or driverless cars.

The city called on the burgeoning driverless-car industry to come to Sacramento to test their wares on our streets. At the same time, it applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for formal designation as a national Automated Vehicle Proving Ground.

It didn’t get the federal designation. Of 60-plus applicants, the feds gave their stamp to 10 areas, including two sites in California: San Diego and Contra Costa County.

Sacramento officials said they will continue to push, though, to attract autonomous technology companies here. One of Sacramento’s sales pitches: If your test cars are trundling the streets, you can catch the attention of lawmakers and power brokers at the Capitol.