Ohio’s weather and traffic create the ideal recipe for potholes
ODOT winter workforces continually repairing pavement damage between storms
COLUMBUS (Tuesday, March 02, 2010) – According to pavement experts from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), record snowfall in Ohio, repeated freeze/thaw cycles and the fifth highest volume of highway traffic in the nation has created the ideal recipe for potholes.
Since the start of the winter season (November 1, 2009), more than 5,000 tons of mix material have been used and more than 81,000 labor hours have been spent by ODOT’s winter crews repairing potholes along Ohio Interstates, State and U.S. Routes.
How is a pothole formed?
Weather is a big factor in making potholes. Moisture is a roads worst enemy. Snow, ice and rain seeps into the pores and small cracks of roadway surfaces. Once the water gets into the road, then freezes, it can cause the pavement to be stressed, to expand and to displace paving material. Sunlight and friction from vehicle tires create varying temperatures that keep the damaging freeze/thaw cycle in motion. Warmer temperatures accelerate the freeze/thaw cycle, causing pavement to deteriorate more quickly.
With more precipitation, more freeze thaw cycles and the continued weight of traffic, the cracks go all the way through the pavement to the subsurface. At this point, water can get underneath the surface. When the subsurface water freezes and expands it pushes the pavement up and weakens it even more. When the ice melts and contracts it leaves a space and a weakened pavement layer over a cavity.
Why are there so many?
Some potholes have been there for a while during snow events and may not have been so easily noticed until pavement temperatures rise and the snow melts to reveal the new cracked and pitted surfaces. Nicer weather brings more motorists out to enjoy travel on nicer days. Where there is a stressed area and more traffic, potholes can pop up.
How does ODOT handle pothole repairs?
ODOT winter workforces continually work to repair pavement damage between storms. The same crews who keep highways safe and passable during winter events continually trade their plows in for pothole patching vehicles and materials. In between snowflakes, under heavy traffic and through the darkness of night, they are filling potholes that were created by the freeze/thaw cycles.
This time of year ODOT uses "cold mix" to repair potholes. Cold mix is a combination of asphalt, rocks, sand and an emulsion that causes the product to adhere to the hole. Cold mix is best used in cold weather, hence the name, and does not have to be heated to a hot temperature to work. The positive is - it works fast, but it is also similar to putting a Band-Aid on a cut that needs stitches. It doesn't last as long as hot material that is traditionally used in warmer climate.
For more information contact:
Paula Putnam, ODOT Central Office Communications, at 614-728-8915
or Your Local ODOT Communications Office