This is the time of year when potholes naturally plague driving everywhere. After some crazy weather patterns, 2019 is turning out to be a doozie, according to NPR and many tweets.
As winter turns to spring, roads turn to battlefields – and the Spring of 2019 is no exception. After a relatively mild early winter the majority of America’s Midwest and Northeast was dealt with the “bomb cyclone” in March that came about five weeks after a polar vortex of deeply freezing temperatures affected much of the same region.
Those events, combined with the fluctuations of temperatures above and below the freezing point, common in February and March, lead to pothole formation. But even if you don’t drive – and especially if you do – you get plenty of reminders from the media about the ruts in pavement that can spell trouble for your car, truck, bus, or bicycle.
National Public Radio broadcast on March 14 an interview with Jonathan Gano, the Des Moines, Iowa director of public works about how conditions are in that Great Plains state. “I’ve seen people in Des Moines and other cities saying they have never seen potholes as bad as right now,” noted reporter Ari Shapiro. “Is this year actually worse than normal?”
Gano was clear: “This year is quite a bit worse than normal,” he said. Gano went on to describe, much like an Eskimo’s description of 20 different kinds of snow, “40 different causes for all the different varieties of potholes.” He says this is due to how streets are constructed. Some are made of asphalt overlaid on older concrete, for example, while others are “slab breaks, corners, pop-outs, frost heaving – there’s a whole menu of different ways that a street will fail.”
Turn off the radio and turn on Twitter to find similar tales of pavement woe that are plentiful. A sampling (with a few expletives deleted):
“Dodging a pothole? Easy. Dodging a car that’s dodging a pothole while you’re trying to dodge a pothole? Absolutely DELETED.”
“Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by potholes in Omaha, NE” (it has more than 3,000 likes)
“U ever hit a pothole so bad you gotta lower the music and process how bad it sounded…?”
“Tech Tuesday – Be sure to have your front steering and suspension checked, especially after the 5th Northern Illinois Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and POTHOLES.” (from BillWhitesCarHospital, a repair shop in DeKalb, Illinois)
“Driving in Milwaukee with all these potholes just feels like I’m playing Mario kart avoiding banana peels”
“Buffalo needs to fix all of their DELETED potholes. I’m sick of it.”
“Knowing where your neighborhood potholes are at is like a sixth instinct.”
“You know the potholes are bad when the local meat market can use it as a billboard advertisement” (photo of a billboard for a supermarket that says “Steaks bigger than an 8th Street pothole”)
“Am I the only one that apologizes to my car when I hit a pothole?”
“There’s a nice 3 bedroom 2 bath pothole on 275 if anyone’s interested.”
“Northern Virginia faces potentially worse year on record for potholes.”
“Just hit a pothole and that DELETED sounded expensive.”
“I wish I could describe the face I make when I know I’m about to hit a pothole”
“As a driver I’m cautious of potholes, but as a pedestrian I’m blind. Somehow I managed to fall into this pothole (photo of a serious curbside divot). Thank God the bus was at a stop and didn’t run me over while J walking.”
“Sudbury’s riskiest game: Puddle or pothole?”
But one has to give credit to Friendly’s Ice Cream, which advertises its limited edition flavor on Twitter alongside a “pothole” search. It’s called “Nor’easter POTHOLE,” a variety sold in the 1.5 quart size boasting “Chocolate ice cream swirled with black tar fudge, cream cookie gravel & chocolate asphalt chips.”
“Nor’easter POTHOLE” is available at Acme, ShopRite, and Giant stores on the East Coast – an area battered by storms and potholes in the spring of 2019.