Some Milwaukee things come and go, while some Milwaukee things become icons. Mandatory Milwaukee is all about the latter. This week: potholes!

There’s a dusty joke about Wisconsin having only two seasons: winter and road construction. If we may be so bold, allow us to suggest a third season:

Pothole season.

Okay, potholes are obviously a problem beyond just Milwaukee and Wisconsin. And place where you have A.) highly trafficked roads, and B.) weather that allows for damaging freeze-thaw cycles, you’re gonna find potholes. But Milwaukee seems to have a particular problem with these insidious car- and ankle-killers. Welcome to late winter and early spring, Milwaukee. Prepare your suspensions accordingly.

“Milwaukee tops 2,500 pothole reports” blared a 2023 headline. “Potholes plaguing Milwaukee streets,” declared another. Was 2023 an “epidemic” year for potholes in Milwaukee? “Milwaukee leaders call for plan to fix pothole ‘epidemic,'” another headline informed us. So yeah, 2023 was bad. So bad that a random list slapped together by a random software company or whatever had Milwaukee tied for fourth in the nation for “Worst Maintained Roads.” Ouch! Hopefully we’re still the 9th most polite city in the U.S.!

(Also, shout-out to the biggest “No shit!” Milwaukee pothole headline of 2023: “Milwaukee potholes result of weather, bad road conditions, sources say.” No shit!)

So how about 2024? It’s been a mild winter so far, but as anyone who has stepped/driven outside can tell you, the pothole problem remains. We reached out to the fine folks at the Department of Public Works (DPW), who had this to say:

“We currently have four crews city-wide working on potholes. That number will increase to six in March. That is the time of year we see the most potholes because of thawing. Yesterday [Monday, January 29], we received 48 pothole requests and we are basically caught up with requests. Our current response time is 1-3 days. In the cold months we use cold patch. Once about April hits, we have hot mix available which is more flexible and stronger.”

So there you go! And the DPW statement hints at something important: While the department does monitor Milwaukee roads for potholes, it largely depends on the public—that’s us!—to report them.

How do we do that? Well…

Call the City Unified Call Center at 414-286-CITY (2489)


Submit a service request HERE


Submit a service request via the MKE Mobile Action app

“If you notice a pothole in a street or alley,” the DPW says, “please report it right away.” Okay! Do that, Milwaukee! And think spring!

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.