SALEM, Va. - Pothole season is here, as the temperature changes are causing more cracks and craters in the roads.
Road crews say it's still a little early to know just how severe the potholes are going to be this year, but with temperatures quickly swinging from snow and freezing rain to days in the upper 50s and 60s like we’ve seen over the past few weeks, the crews are off to a busy start.
Roanoke City says as of right now, things are looking about average. There have been nearly 300 potholes filled in the Star City since January 1. Crews continue to fill them in as they’re reported.
VDOT is responsible for maintaining County roads across the region, and says they’re off to a busy start as well. Jason Bond, a spokesperson for VDOT, says wet weather and changing temperatures have caused an increase and potholes over the past two weeks.
Although crews are working fast to fill them, the increase in potholes is leading to more vehicle damage as well.
“This time of year I’ll probably see anywhere from five or six to eight cars a week coming in,” said James Ealey, store manager at Thompson Tire in Christiansburg. “A lot of people are good, they will hit one and say, ‘Hey, I need to get this checked out.’ Just try to miss those potholes if you can, at night it’s hard to miss them and sometimes you’re right on top of them before you know it.”
With moisture seeps into the pavement, freezes and expands, then thaws, pavement eventually crumbles and forms those potholes.
Those freeze – thaw cycles have been especially hard over the past couple of months. One of the biggest drops we’ve seen was January 12 when afternoon temperatures were at 67°. By the very next night, temperatures had dropped to just 18° at 11 p.m.
Roads with higher traffic volumes have more potholes because they are driven on more often. That increase in weight can tear up the road faster. Bridges and ramps, which receive heavy doses of snow removal chemicals, are also more prone to potholes.
For many vehicles that hit potholes, the damage is apparent. The tires either pop immediately, or a bulge or bubble forms in the sidewall of the tire.
There is also damage that’s not always visible. From wear and tear to alignment issues and other suspension problems, experts say it’s important to pay attention to any changes and get your vehicle checked if you’ve recently hit a big pothole.
“We put on the alignment rack, get it in there, check that front end suspension to make sure it hasn’t done any damage,” says Ealey. “Most of the time the customer, they drive that car all the time, and they’re going to be able to tell you, ‘Hey, my car isn’t feeling right.’”
If there’s a pothole in your neighborhood, or one you see on the way to work, click here to report it.
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