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WINTER 2011 – EXTRAORDINARY POTHOLES

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The La Nina weather pattern is in force in the Pacific Ocean off Chile, and that means less snow in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut tri-state region. At least, that’s what the National Weather Service is predicting – a forecast that more or less concurs with the Old Farmer’s Almanac, which makes its predictions based on sunspots, tidal waves and astrological positions. Says the Almanac: “Colder than normal winter temperatures” will prevail,…

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Complex Federal Approaches to Infrastructure Outlined in HuffPost Article

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The economics and politics of infrastructure investment by the public sector – perhaps in partnership with the private sector in public-private partnerships (PPPs) – are outlined in detail in this article by Huffington Post reporter Matt Sledge. Sledge’s article looks at developed and developing countries such as China, Japan and the Russian Federation, which help illustrate by contrast the woefully under-funded inland transport infrastructure found in the U.S.

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OKC Potholes: A Dozen Crews at Work All Year

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Oklahoma is just south enough to be outside the Snow Belt – i.e., it may snow, but not at the epic levels seen in Minneapolis and Chicago – however, that doesn’t mean places like Oklahoma City don’t get their share of potholes. The amount of rain, traffic and freeze-thaw cycles in the region still causes plenty of cracks, crevices, chuckholes and pavement divots. Statewide, the average annual cost-per-vehicle from damage due…

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Volunteers Fix Potholes in Escondido

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From time to time, news will surface that someone got so fed up with a particular pothole that he or she filled and fixed it them self. George Weir of Escondido has been doing that for three years, but on a much grander scale. The owner of Escondido Asphalt, Inc. (and several other businesses in construction and agriculture) has been putting between $80,000 and $100,000 of company resources to work…

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Potholes Hurt Business, But San Francisco Votes to Fight Back

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The voters of San Francisco understand a basic fact about potholes. By a two-to-one margin in a November 2011 referendum, they approved a $250 million bond measure to fix their streets. It was a bold move in recessionary times, and the vote might provide a case study from which the rest of the country might learn. Throughout the country, from the expressways of California to the bridges of New Jersey…

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Hot, Cold and Recycled: Different Asphalts for Different Conditions

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America has spent more than one trillion dollars building its infrastructure of streets, roads, highways and superhighways. Because that building program began decades ago – for cars and bicycles 100 years ago, and in earnest since the 1950s – much of that investment today is crumbling. Potholes are everywhere – but so too is the innovative drive to plug up those breaks in asphalt (most roads are built with asphalt,…

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Milder Winter, Fewer Potholes?

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The reworking of the U.S. weather maps in early January reflects what most of the northern tier of the United States has quietly been happy about: This winter hasn’t turned out to be nearly as bad as expected. That might result in smoother driving next summer, from less damage to streets and highways, and more money to fix potholes because snow and ice removal have not been necessary. There are,…

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Winter 2011-2012 in the Central U.S. – and the Potholes to Come

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As winter settles in, it is anyone’s guess as to whether the weather will meet expectations. But as sure as there will be cold, snow, sleet and eventually, a thaw, there is one prediction that is a safe bet: there will be potholes. A severe period of cold and snow is predicted for the upper Midwest, including storms expected to hit Chicago, Indianapolis, Omaha, Nebraska and of course Buffalo, New…

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Corrugated Street: The Problem with Railroad Track Level Crossings

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In cities, counties and rural areas where roads have recently received a nice, smooth resurfacing of clean asphalt, one problem for motorists still remains. It’s rough railroad crossings, the jarring experience of passing over the damaging, uneven surfaces immediately surrounding railway lines. Whether that crossing is at-grade or slightly elevated, it appears to be a cruel joke. The  car or truck might be traveling at a good clip, with no…

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October Snowstorm an Early Warning – About Potholes

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The record level of snowfall along the eastern corridor at the end of October 2011 caused enough damage on its own. Millions of homes and businesses went without electrical power as a result of downed power lines. As fall turns into winter, we’re reminded that where nature intersects with civilization, man-made things have a tendency to fall apart. This snowstorm did the region the disfavor of arriving while the leaves…

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Salem, Ohio Pothole Once Famous, Now Fixed

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The way money is allocated in most cash-strapped cities, counties and townships across America, it often seems like a matter of splitting hairs. But the Butcher Road Pothole of 2011 in Columbiana County, Ohio really came down to splitting a road. All in the name of fiscal responsibility. A brouhaha erupted in the summer, when a pothole plaguing motorists seemed to be getting bigger while it was officially ignored. Citizens…

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Driving Tips to Avoid Potholes – And Rising Tire Prices

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In case you didn’t like potholes in the winter of 2010-2011, there is a reason you’ll dislike potholes even more in the winter of 2011-2012. Here’s why: Potholes destroy tires, and the price of tires is rising sharply due to a supply shortage of natural rubber (yes, it still comes from trees, mostly in southeast Asia) and increasing demand from China, where car ownership is undergoing double-digit growth. Petroleum is…

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NYC Mystery: Not a Pothole, a “Street Defect”

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In a city like New York there is a subterranean world. Pet alligators once flushed down toilets are rumored to roam the sewers – an apocryphal tale – and the drinking water system is said to leak like a sieve (true, as it turns out). There is evidence of secret tunnels in Queens connecting what once were two forts (Totten and Schuyler). “Invisible New York – The Hidden Infrastructure of the City”…

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Polymer-Modified Asphalt a “Game Changer” in Cold, Hot and Wet Conditions

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In the widening gulf between municipal budgets and road pavement quality, is there any hope the roads will get fixed? Every mayor in America – and Canada and much of the rest of the world – gets elected on a promise to fix potholes. But when elected officials settle into the executive suite they often find out they have about 30 cents available for every dollar needed to fix those…

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Pothole Warning Graphic a Sign of the Times?

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Some pictures are worth a thousands words. This one might save you a thousand bucks. Technically speaking we’re talking about a graphic, not a picture per sé. It is a black silhouette (on an orange field) of a car is tipped into a crevice of broken pavement in such a way that the words “look out!” come to mind. It’s a pothole warning symbol, of the type that would be…

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Bicycling and Potholes: Hazards and Solutions

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When champion triathlete Linda Neary was on the road to victory at the 2003 Publix Family Fitness Weekend Coca-Cola Classic Triathlon Series in Nassau, Bahamas, she stopped during the run to check up on her closest competitor, Lotte Branigan of Vero Beach. Why? Branigan had fallen from tripping in a pothole on the course. “I fell like that in Hawaii,” remarked Neary, who beat second-place finisher Branigan by a bare…

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Los Angeles’ Operation Pothole – A Business Development Strategy

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On July 16 and 17 (2011), much of the country was riveted on “Carmageddon,” an orchestrated shutdown of ten miles of I-405 (the San Diego Freeway) between I-10 (Santa Monica Freeway) and US-101 (Ventura Freeway). Caltrans, the California state highways department in charge of the highway and repairs, conducted this major project over the two-day weekend to ultimately improve traffic flow with HOV (high occupancy vehicles) lanes, improve bridges, realign…

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Minnesota Test Nukes Potholes

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Temperature extremes have a way of driving innovation. The Inuit, centuries before there were Ray Bans, would strap bone, tusks or bark to their faces, with a thin slit cut to allow their eyes to peer out. This would protect them from snow blindness, a real malady when a landscape of clean white snow and blinding sunshine would coincide. Perhaps it was something far ahead of its time: They looked…

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Parking Lots Potholes are Valuable – to Attorneys and Plaintiffs

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Reports in July 2011 that a community college student has filed a $375,000 lawsuit against her school in Eugene, Oregon should not surprise too many people. The student tripped in a 6-inch-by-1-inch pothole next to where she parked, leading to $14,000 in medical costs. Perhaps what was most newsworthy about the case is the student has a disabling bone disease – and the pothole was adjacent to her handicapped parking space….

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Heat Wave 2011 Explodes and Buckles Pavement

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For U.S. motorists in any parts of the million-square-mile area under the heat dome of 2011 – with temperatures in the 90s and 100s (Fahrenheit), and heat indices 20 and 30 points higher in some places – there’s more to worry about than engine coolant and functioning air conditioners. Add exploding potholes to the list. Actually, it’s pavement that is exploding, leaving potholes in its wake. This largely occurs with…

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Europeans Test Neon Asphalt Layer As Pothole Alert

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One sign the pothole problem in Europe is increasing is when researchers come up with new and novel ways of managing them. In this case, it involves brightly colored asphalt. In Europe, potholes are no less a problem than in the U.S. Roads built there before and after World War II are reaching the latter stages of their expected lifespan, and money is lacking to keep up on repairs.

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Glassphalt: Have Roads Made with Recycled Glass Changed Pavement?

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When the City of New York repaved a section of Fifth Avenue twenty years ago along the front of the Plaza Hotel with something called glassphalt, the pavement sparkled from tiny flecks of recycled glass in the aggregate mix. But it was neither the recycled nature of the glass, nor the resilience with which the material can stand up to the traffic and temperature swings of the Big Apple, that…

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