It’s pothole repair season, from coast to coast and road crevasse to street pit. And lest anyone think their city, county, or state is more afflicted than any other, we provide for you a snapshot of what asphalt looks like in the spring of 2022:
“This year’s pothole season one of the worst in recent memory,” reports TBNewsWatch.com. Owing to “a hard winter on our roads with the continual freeze-thaw,” Thunder Bay (Ontario)’s director of engineering, Kayla Dixon, says they are still doing temporary road patching – because even in May it’s still too cold for full-out repaving. “Until we see asphalt plants open up, really the patching that we’re doing is a very temporary measure.”
(Asphalt plants everywhere shut down in winter because it’s not possible to transport and install hot asphalt when air and surface temperatures are below 55 degrees F; winter repairs are made with cold patch material, some of which is permanent and some of which is not.)
A nearby Canadian car repair service provider ticked off the source of his business as of late: “This year especially there has been a lot of pothole damage, basically front-end damage on cars – especially, rims, tires, ball joints – so I’ve definitely seen more frequent customers coming in, more frequent damages to their cars. Ultimately, it’s just the result of the current road conditions,” said Kyle Jacklitch, service advisor at Done-Rite.
“Scrub Hub: Is climate change making Indianapolis’ pothole problems even worse?” The Indianapolis Star environmental reporter cites a study (from an insurance company) of internet searches for pothole-caused car repairs. A key finding was that Indiana is ranked second nationwide for pothole problems. The story discusses the interplay of environmental concerns with deteriorating infrastructure. First, the fluctuations over and under 32 degrees happened on 36 days between December 2021 and May 2022 (freeze-thaw cycles are the most damaging to asphalt), which is a departure from the past, according to Marion County’s Department of Public Works. Temperatures in winter generally stayed below 32 degrees most winters for months on end, reducing the number of those above-and-below freezing days – a fact borne out by studies conducted by the Purdue Climate Change Research Center.
Picketers at Muskegon Heights (near Grand Rapids, Michigan) City Hall demanded in April that the city council fix the roads. “The roads are nearly impassable,” says the WZZM13-TV news reader, as the program showed a shockingly pothole-scarred road. “Street repairs will be done with the replacement of lead water service lines,” she continued, illustrating some of the complexity around municipal utilities and pavement.
‘Drivers face $600 car repair costs after pothole damage,’ reports Fox Business. Citing the AAA as its source, the network says, “America’s crumbling infrastructure is felt by drivers across the country who are faced with unexpected car repairs … Potholes caused $26.5 billion worth of damage in 2021, leaving about 1 in 10 drivers to cope with an average repair cost of $600.”
Providing advice, the business program says to (1) check your tires to make sure they are fully inflated, (2) scan the road for potholes, not assuming standing puddles are shallow, and (3), look for warning signs such as unusual vibrations in the car or if the steering wheel keeps pulling in one direction. “Bring your car to a trusted mechanic to determine if you need repairs.”
What is clear from reporting all over the country is that road crews are out, increasingly so as the weather warms, repairing the damage of the past winter. We should all look out for potholes – but also drive carefully and slowly as those crews shovel and compress the repair material that will make for a smoother ride this summer.