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Anatomy of a pothole

Potholes are a constant nuisance during winter
Posted: 5:38 PM, Feb 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-18 19:52:25-05

Potholes are unavoidable on every level during the winter months. Both in the way that you can't seem to swerve and miss every single one and because the perfect conditions to make a pothole are going to continue.

Winter here is cold and snowy, that's just how it is and we all know to expect it. But it's those two ingredients that start to cause problems, as explained by Parking Area Maintenance president Ben Norris.

"That's bad for the asphalt, bad for the pavement is we've had a lot of moisture and we've had a lot of freeze/thaw," he says.

When the moisture makes it through cracks in the asphalt, it gets down to the sub-base and then things start to get messy.

"Once the water is down in there and we see a freeze, it expands. Once it expands, and it warms back up again, then it will create the hole, and then the pavement just collapses into it," Norris explains.

Larger volumes of traffic and heavier vehicles also add to the weight put onto the roads during the winter months when the asphalt is under extra stress.

The city and contractors fixing potholes during the winter use a different mixture than the usual.

"It's a mix of the rock and asphalt adhesive, but it's stickier and it's only a temporary solution," Norris adds.

The permanent fixes have to wait until there is less moisture and temperature swings start to calm down.

Preventative measures to fill cracks can begin once we get into the spring, summer, and fall months, but for now we'll just have to deal with the potholes and their temporary fixes.