Chesterton Tribune



INDOT warns motorists about a whole new crop of potholes

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An outbreak of potholes has erupted throughout Northwest Indiana following this month’s cycle of extreme weather, the Indiana Department of Transportation is reporting.

“Historically low temperatures gave way to a 50-plus degree swing in less than 24 hours,” INDOT said in a statement released on Thursday. “The dramatic freeze/thaw was a recipe for one of the worst outbreaks of potholes many in Northwest Indiana had seen.”

Now, a similar swing of 40-plus degrees, after more than a foot of snow in some areas and more subzero temperatures, is likely to grow another crop of potholes, INDOT is warning.

“Due to this historic winter weather, crews in the Northwest Indiana District have been on alternating 12 hour shifts for the majority of the last four weeks to ensure roads are being maintained 24 hours a day,” INDOT said. “When not working to remove snow and ice, crews are patching potholes. They are working day and night to fill potholes as quickly as possible, but with 5,000 lane miles to maintain in the Northwest Indiana District alone, it’s a big job and it will take time.”

Potholes are formed when water seeps into the cracks in a road and freezes, expanding the layers of pavement, stone, and soil beneath the surface. Then, as the ice melts and contracts, heavy highway traffic further loosens the pavement, forming potholes.

“With temperatures too low for paving, most of Indiana’s hot mix asphalt plants are now closed,” INDOT noted. “During the winter INDOT uses cold mix--a mixture of small stone and liquid asphalt--as a temporary patch. Even after being filled with cold patch, the same pothole requires ongoing maintenance and can reopen several times throughout the winter. When the asphalt plants reopen in the spring, INDOT maintenance crews clean out and then repair potholes with hot mix, providing a smoother, more permanent fix.”

For the past several years, INDOT has been expanding its pavement preservation program to improve pavement friction and seal cracks before potholes form. In the fiscal year ending June 2013, INDOT performed chip seal operations on 1,514 lanes miles of state highways and applied a thin overlay surface treatment on an additional 371 lane miles. “For every dollar invested, research estimates that pavement preservation saves taxpayers $6 to $14 in future maintenance and construction costs,” INDOT said.

To report a pothole on a numbered state route, interstate or U.S. highway in Northwest Indiana call (855) GO-INDOT.




Posted 1/31/2014