Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 10, 2013

Officials: Potholes are a result of ‘physics’

GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Snow and freezing cold have taken their toll on bodies and souls throughout the region, and new potholes show that winter weather has also taken its toll on highways, too.

Motorists have noticed new potholes opening up as winter starts giving way to spring. The cycles of freezing and warming that are seen this time of year tends to create potholes, said Tom Camden, district manager for the state Department of Transportation.

“This time of year they do seem to become worse,” Camden said. “This time of year, you get a lot of freezing and thawing. It’s just physics, you know.”

The cycle compresses and then expands the asphalt, plus water that gets under it erodes the base of roadways to open up new potholes.

Asphalt plants normally do not open until spring. In the meantime, the highway department does have a way to temporarily patch potholes until asphalt becomes available.

“We do have one means this time of year that we use to at least address some of the worst ones we’re aware of,” Camden said. “It’s called cold mix; however, this usually is a temporary repair. Basically, it fills the hole and will hold until we do a permanent repair. It’s an asphalt mixture that doesn’t have to be heated. It’s similar to what you can buy at a home repair store.”

Asphalt plants close during the winter because the hot material can be put down only within a certain temperature range. Unpredictable weather makes patching potholes difficult during the winter months.

“Even if we got a warm stretch, it would be almost impossible to do much paving in the winter,” he said. “Obviously, in the winter, it’s just too cold.”

Members of the public tell the highway department where potholes can be found.

“Obviously, we try to be observant as we move across the county, but yes, please let us know,” Camden said.

Potholes in Mercer County can be reported by calling 304-487-5281 or 304-436-8411 for potholes in McDowell County.