Extreme winter weather means more potholes in Clark County, region

The most severe winter weather in recent years also has produced more potholes on Clark County roads.

“Some counties are saying the potholes are worse this year,” Ohio Department of Transportation spokeswoman Mandi Dillon said in a statement.

MORE: Meteorologist Eric Elwell explains how potholes form

Clark County officials expect to see issues with potholes around this time every year, Clark County Engineer Johnathan Burr said, but this winter there have been a few more than usual.

“Any time we have these kind of temperature swings, it’s going to be an issue,” Burr said.

Potholes form when water soaks into the pavement, then freezes and expands as temperatures change, according to ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning.

Pavement will heat up and cool down as temperatures fluctuate, Burr said, but sometimes the temperature changes of the pavement can be even more extreme than those in the air, magnifying that effect.

Potholes are a costly problem for both drivers and road crews to navigate.

MORE: New Carlisle road closed for days to clean up 10K tons of corn

Pothole damage costs American drivers about $3 billion a year, a AAA study revealed.

ODOT has spent $726,000 patching potholes so far this winter, Bruning said, most of it in recent weeks. The majority of that sum has paid for labor costs.

“This season ODOT crews have spent 21,669 hours — the equivalent of two and a half years — just patching potholes,” Bruning said.

ODOT crews prioritize potholes in high traffic areas, like the interstates, over residential roads, Bruning said.

“Just like when we’re clearing snow and ice, we try and make sure the main roadways get taken care of first,” he said.

MORE: Does Ohio need a ‘slow poke law’?

Already this year, ODOT has used the second highest amount of salt it has used in the past decade, Bruning said. This is usually an indication of how severe a winter’s weather has been, Bruning said.

Local crews are also working every day to repair roadways. This season, Burr ordered cold patch, which is used to seal potholes, by the truckload, he said.

“We knew what was coming, so we wanted to get a stockpile,” Burr said.

Clark County teams have also tried to be proactive about sealing road cracks this season, Burr said.

Many of the roadways that Burr maintains in Clark County aren’t as prone to potholes as more heavily trafficked Springfield streets, he said. However, since rural roads have a thinner paved base than city streets, they can crack more easily.

MORE: Looking back in Springfield: A 1900s ice storm

As long as it isn’t raining or snowing, the city of Springfield can usually respond to reports of potholes within 24 hours, said Chris Moore, Springfield’s service director.

“We always encourage citizens to report potholes,” Moore said. “We have our road crews out looking, but we can’t always catch everything.”

Drivers can report potholes to the city by calling the Springfield City Service Center at 937-525-5800 or filling out a “report a concern” form on the city’s website, www.springfieldohio.gov.

Burr also encouraged Clark County drivers to alert his office of potholes and other road issues by calling the Clark County Engineer’s Office at 937-521-1800.

Drivers can report potholes to ODOT online at www.dot.state.oh.us or, if the pothole needs immediate attention, by alerting the highway patrol.

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