Pothole Problems? Don't Go Crying To Warren

Mar 18, 2014

The Town of Warren is being proactive about its potholes, or at least about warding off blame for those potholes. The town has posted a pothole alert on its website that notes the weather, not the road construction, is to blame for this seasonal blight:

Roads all across the State not just in Warren have taken a hit from the constant freezing and thawing that the rough winter has brought. For the record potholes are not caused by some form of substandard road construction – and please don’t begin to lecture our road crew on the need for better road maintenance. Potholes are nothing more than the abrupt change in ambient road temperature (freeze-thaw-freeze) coupled with the warming rays of the sun.

The alert says potholes are just part of driving in Vermont:

Winter driving isn’t just about traveling safely on snow and ice. It’s also about coping with mid-season thaws that cause the road to crumble beneath your tires. Making permanent repairs during the winter is both difficult and expensive; in winter months the Town fills potholes with both cold and hot patch and waits until spring to make permanent repairs with hot asphalt. These temporary repairs are intended to maintain safely and minimize damage to vehicles. Permanent repairs require waiting until the spring thaw.

The alert also provides some basic pothole education:

What causes a pothole?

Water can get under the pavement through cracks or from the side of the road. Over time, the water can cause the material under the pavement to erode, causing pavement to sink down and break. During the winter, the water under the pavement freezes, then thaws, (contracting and expanding). This freeze/thaw cycle can cause the pavement to crack so that it deteriorates quickly under the weight of traffic, and then streets can seem to break out in potholes overnight. Crew s can fill the pothole that day, but with the constant ambient temperature from the freeze-thaw-freeze, water from the frost or rain, causes water to get under the patch and with the excessive traffic, it can reappear the next day.

And finally, the Town of Warren offers these winter driving tips:

  • Stay a safe distance behind other cars.
  • Travel at a safe speed for the road conditions.
  • Avoid standing water.
  • Pay special attention to your tire pressures. Keeping tire pressure consistently at the manufacturer’s recommendation will help protect your vehicle’s wheels and tires from being damaged from pothole impacts.
  • If safe, don’t swerve to avoid pot holes. Swerving can create a situation where the front wheel and tire on car can impact the edge of the pothole at an obtuse angle, which might do more damage than hitting it squarely.
  • If safe, don’t brake just because you see a pothole: heavy braking compresses the front suspension of the car and will have a tendency to force the tire and wheel down into the pothole, instead of gliding over.

There you have it, Pothole 101.