Brookhaven, GA – Some of the issues the City of Brookhaven’s Public Works department faces constantly are pothole repairs and pavement problems – mostly caused by deteriorating roadways together with an abundance of rainfall. With Winter now in full swing and forecasts showing freezing temperatures, adding ice to the mix and the potential for potholes to develop increases.
FYI, in 2013 our area received 16 inches of rain above the normal amount of 49.71 inches annually for a total amount of 66.02 inches. Remember the floods of 2009? The rainfall total was just 3.5 inches more that year than this year. Point being, it’s been unusually wet and some of our road conditions show the signs.
What causes potholes and how are they repaired?
Most people say, “I just want them fixed, I don’t care how they got there.” Yep. Us too. But, for those of you who want to know more about what causes most potholes and to understand what it takes to repair them, read on. Those of you who don’t want the gory details, go directly here to report ones you’ve spotted to Public Works.
It’s more than a hole in the pavement that magically appeared
Most potholes are formed due to fatigue of the road surface. As fatigue fractures develop they typically interlock in a pattern known as crocodile cracking. The chunks of pavement between fatigue cracks are worked loose and may eventually be picked out of the surface by continued wheel loads, thus forming a pothole.
Brookhaven’s Public Works Director Richard Meehan shared with The Post, “The amount of rainfall has had a significant effect on the number of potholes that have appeared. Potholes in this region are mainly caused by water seeping into the roadway sub-base, weakening the sub-base, which then cannot support the pavement above it. The heavy amount of rainfall this past year has accelerated the weakening of the pavement to the point of failure on many of the roads that were already in poor condition.”
In Winter, the formation of potholes is exacerbated by low temperatures, as water freezes it expands and puts greater stress on an already cracked pavement or road. That expansion, pushes out some of the dirt and gravel, leaving a hole when the water eventually melts. Drivers continue to drive over these unseen holes, putting even more stress on the thin asphalt layer covering them. Eventually, the asphalt layer over these divots collapses, leaving holes in the roadway.
So what are the ways to repair them?
Road maintenance crews generally have two different ways of fixing the damage. During the winter months, potholes receive what is known as a cold winter mix. This is a temporary fix consisting of a soft asphalt poured into the holes after they have been cleared of debris. A layer of gravel may be added to increase strength and stability, but the damage is often expected to reappear by spring.
A more permanent fix is called a hot summer mix. This combination of road grade asphalt and aggregate is designed to last for years, but it can only be applied during dry, warm weather. When road crews use a hot summer mix, they often reroute traffic around the work site and spend more time preparing the road surface for the patch. The finished layer of new asphalt is usually compacted to match the level of the road, making it nearly invisible.
“In cold weather, we are still able to make temporary repairs to potholes using a cold patch asphalt. Generally, the hot mix asphalt that is needed for permanent patching is not available from the plants in the winter (Jan/Feb). Depending on the size of the hole and the condition of the base, and the amount of traffic on the road, these cold patch repairs can last for a year or more. When we make a repair using cold patch, we will continue to monitor the location afterwards, and make a permanent patch if needed when the weather gets warmer (usually after March 1),” said Meehan.
When is the city going to get busy paving our streets?
The city has been anxious to get started with some street paving, although the wet weather and cold temperatures have put a kink in that plan.
Meehan says the city is wrapping up a longer range plan and hopes to begin in Spring. “We will be finalizing city paving plans for 2014 and for the next 3-5 years with the City Council in the first quarter of the year. We plan to issue an RFP for 2014 road paving in early Spring. We hope to begin paving in mid to late Spring and continue work throughout the Summer.”
Be on the lookout and file a report.
Over the next few days temperatures will dip significantly below freezing, after another bout of rain. Be on the lookout as you make your way around for potholes that exist to potentially expand and new ones to dodge until Public Works can get to them.
To report a pothole or adverse roadway condition, remember to utilize the SeeClickFix system to create a report with Public Works.
**Sources: wiseGeek, NWS, Wikipedia