Drivers can expect more potholes when spring arrives


ARENAC COUNTY — When the snow and ice finally melt away from the roadways, a new obstacle is likely to be facing drivers — potholes.

Road Commission Superintendent Blair Dyer said the rough winter will create some rough road conditions in the early spring.

“What happens is a lot of times the salt we put on this highway and with the cracks in the pavement, the water gets down in there and it freezes,” he said. “That ice actually pops the particles of blacktop apart.”

“All it takes is for that water to get in there and freeze and it just blows it right out of there,” Dyer said.

Existing potholes in the roads grow due to the water freezing and expanding in the winter, and traffic over the holes compounds the issue even more, according to Dyer.

“The cars, as they start hitting it, they hammer it out even more,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to get to them.”

The road commission fills potholes with a cold patch treatment, Dyer said.

“It’s a stone and asphalt mix,” he said. “Hot asphalt will set up. This won’t actually set up. It compacts in the hole.”

Motorists in the county can report potholes to the road commission, Dyer said.

“We have service requests that we’ve always had,” he said. “People report them and we write all the information down and then we send the crews out.”

Dyer said he expects the side roads to be especially rough when winter is over and the damage is surveyed.

“I think the side roads will fall apart quite a bit because of all the frost,” he said.

Dirt roads often have little drainage, and Dyer said the water settles on the roads and causes them to get soft and muddy.

“The roads get real mushy on top,” he said. “The first foot or so can be just solid mud.”

Dyer said the frost is also underneath the paved roads, which is why they can seem bouncy at times.

“That’s the frost pushing underneath the road bed there,” he said.

Expanding ice has pushed expansion joints up, Dyer said, causing some humps and bumps on the roadway.

“When ice forms and you get that frost, everything expands,” he said. “When it expands, it pushes the joints tighter together and it humps up like that.”

Eventually, the expansion joints settle back into place, Dyer said.

Whether it’s muddy side roads or bigger and new potholes, Dyer said the winter weather is looking to be a recipe for a rough spring at the road commission.

“I’m not looking forward to it, I can tell you that,” he said. “I think we’ll be very busy.”


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