Learn the ‘hole’ story about potholes

By: Eric Czarnik | C&G Newspapers | Published March 9, 2015

Even if you haven’t felt that sinking feeling on the road yet, two county road agencies say you can expect to drive over some potholes soon.

According to Road Commission for Oakland County spokesman Craig Bryson, potholes form when rain or melting snow gets inside road cracks. As temperatures dip, that moisture freezes and expands, creating a cavity under the road. When the frozen water thaws, the road’s structural integrity is compromised, causing the affected portion to collapse into a pothole when a vehicle rolls over it, he said.

Bryson said the RCOC is already seeing a lot of new potholes, and it expects a pretty big year ahead as the freeze-and-thaw cycle continues. He said his agency is prioritizing attention to roads with the most traffic or the highest speed limits, though he added that it also is trying to get to subdivisions and other roads.

“We know the condition of the system is deteriorating already,” Bryson said. “Every day we’re not out plowing and salting, we’re out there patching.”

Bryson said the RCOC encourages people to report large, destructive potholes by calling (877) 858-4804 and to report smaller potholes by visiting the “Contact Us” page of the RCOC’s website.

Macomb County Department of Roads director Bob Hoepfner said the potholes his crews have seen so far haven’t been as bad compared to last year. However, he said the thaw is just beginning after a generally cold winter, so the worst is likely yet to come for potholes.

“I think they’re going to pop, but I think we’re ready for it,” he said.

Because potholes are so common once the season gets underway, Hoepfner recommended cautious driving and to avoid swerving outside of one’s lane.

“You need to drive slow all the time,” he said. “You can’t avoid them.”

Hoepfner said road workers are out all the time patching potholes. He said the patching would continue just like any other year. He said the department’s operational decisions would not be affected by an approaching May 5 statewide election on whether to, among other things, increase the Michigan sales tax to 7 percent to pay for road repairs.

Learn more about the Macomb County Department of Roads by visiting www.rcmcweb.org or by calling (586) 463-8671. Learn more about the Road Commission for Oakland County by visiting www.rcocweb.org or by calling (248) 645-2000.