Mar 11, 2022 - News

311 helpline fixes water leaks to potholes

A vehicle dries by a pothole.
Dozens of Columbus residents have reported pothole issues via the 311 helpline in just the past few days. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Katie Knostman was on a nature walk in the Old Beechwold neighborhood when she spotted unwelcomed graffiti on the historic stone arch bridge.

  • The Columbus resident knew to contact 311 for assistance in getting rid of it, having called the city helpline once before to report an uneven sidewalk that caused her grandfather to trip.
  • The graffiti was promptly washed away and, eventually, the sidewalk was fixed too.

Driving the news: Today is "311 Day," and cities like Columbus are highlighting the often-overlooked public service that's available 24/7 to city residents.

Why it matters: The goal is to reduce nonemergency calls to 911 and help citizens resolve life's little inconveniences: broken streetlights, water leaks and missed recycling pickups.

How it works: Residents can seek help by calling 614-645-3111, emailing [email protected], submitting requests online and via the "My Columbus" mobile app.

By the numbers: The city fielded more than 505,000 requests in 2021, Angela Burks, spokesperson for city's Department of Neighborhoods, tells Axios.

  • The most common reports included trash and recycling issues, abandoned vehicles and the most dreaded of street occurrences: potholes.

Yes, but: 311 is not just about solving such nuisances.

  • For example, residents can even use the service to request new trees be planted on their blocks as part of the city's urban forestry project.

Of note: Hilliard has its own 311 service for the suburb's 37,000 residents.

What's next: The city will soon launch a new 311 website and mobile app, to improve efficiency as the city grows, Burks says. We'll let you know when the new services are live.

🐦 Tyler asked Twitter followers who frequently use 311 for some tips on how best use the service. Here's what they said:

  • Be patient, but insistent. It can sometimes take multiple calls or messages during a busy week to get help, but you will eventually see results.
  • Show evidence if possible. If contacting by digital means, uploading pictures can help draw attention to the problem.

💡 Alissa's pro tip: When I had my house recarpeted last year, I used 311 to schedule a bulk pickup. A couple weeks later, the city hauled away the old, bundled up carpet for free.

  • Businesses typically charge to do this, so it was an easy way to save a few bucks!

Explore the city's interactive map of 311 service requests.

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