To the surprise of no one, the brutal winter conditions in certain parts of the United States have led to a pothole epidemic in Spring 2014. The successive waves of sub-zero temperatures – including the Polar Vortices of January and February – have certainly done a number on the nation’s highways, roads, streets and alleys.
The American South was hit harder in the winter of 2014 than is typical. While the upper Midwest shivered under sub-zero temperatures, the same cold air masses dipped further south to collide with warmer Gulf air, leading to snowfall in every state including parts of Florida.
Reports from cities, counties and state departments of transportation in the northeastern United States – all significantly affected by the harsh conditions of the winter of 2013-2014 – tell us at least two things. One, that potholes now seen after the departure of the last ice and snow in mid-April are abundant. Two, that the costs of fixing those potholes are enormous.
The story of spring potholes in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2014 might be told in terms of road salt tonnage. Because what was used this winter beat the previous three years combined – by a multiple of eight.