Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews have been busy patching potholes in between almost weekly winter weather events. With a break from the snow and ice this week, crews have managed to put a dent in the number of potholes that have been plaguing motorists.
Wide swings in temperatures that we’ve experienced this winter have contributed to an uptick in the number of potholes.
While they don’t count each and every pothole the fill, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet highway crews across the region track the use of equipment, personnel, and materials by activity. That allows them to keep tabs on the cost of filling holes in the pavement. So far, pothole patching expenses are up about 20% over the same time last year with a substantial amount of spring pothole season remaining.
In Fiscal Year 2013, the transportation cabinet spent more than $1.9 million on pothole patching statewide. So far, in Fiscal Year 2014, Kentucky highway crews have spent more than $2.4 million filling in potholes with more than 3 months to go in the current Fiscal Year.
There’s actually a lot of science in the way potholes develop. It all comes down to high moisture, wide temperature swings, and impact loading of passing traffic.
Moisture filters through cracks in pavement. It then expands as it freezes to push roadway base materials aside. That creates a weak spot in the pavement above, allowing it to break. That, in turn, allows the impact loading of vehicle tires to push more material aside. That allows more water to soak in to accelerate the process and create an ever enlarging pothole.
During the winter months highway crews are limited to the use of cold mix to fill potholes. At times, Transportation Cabinet crews have used a hot box to heat up recycled asphalt for pothole patching. Hot material tends to stick in the hole better and last longer that the cold mix patching material.
As the paving season starts up in coming weeks and commercial asphalt plants come back on line for construction season, highway crews will be able to obtain hot mix asphalt that provides more of a permanent solution to the pothole problem.
To report a pothole go to www.511.ky.gov, look for Travel Info, then click on Report a Pothole.