Crazy weather results in more potholes

On 42d Street in Mantua, city worker Ohrante Carter spreads asphalt in a pothole, one of at least 12 the crew repaired Thursday.
On 42d Street in Mantua, city worker Ohrante Carter spreads asphalt in a pothole, one of at least 12 the crew repaired Thursday. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 11, 2014

In what has proved to be an unusual winter, drivers already have endured snow, rain, ice, and a weather whiplash that have contributed to an earlier-than-expected nuisance: A surge of potholes.

"The potholes are jumping up like crazy," Erich Wendel, public works director in Middletown Township, Bucks County, said Thursday. "We have a lot of guys now patching up."

"This pothole season is incredibly early, and it is due to the wide fluctuation in temperatures we're having," Philadelphia Streets Commissioner David Perri said Thursday. "We see some street defects in January, but this has been more than normal."

Early Sunday, the region experienced an ice storm. Then, Monday's temperature in Philadelphia reached a high of 61. By Tuesday morning the thermometer bottomed out at 4.

As temperatures rose Wednesday and Thursday, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation fielded numerous calls from motorists reporting potholes, according to spokesman Eugene J. Blaum.

"Each of PennDot's five-county maintenance offices in the Philadelphia region reported a dramatic increase in pothole calls this week," he said. "The pothole reports from citizens are very valuable because it enables the department to quickly locate and repair the potholes."

Blaum said significant pothole issues usually occur in February or March. Potholes develop from freezing and thawing of the pavement. The problem is intensified by rain or snow, which adds moisture between fissures in the surface, he said.

In PennDot's Southeastern District, which covers Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties, there are about 3,600 miles of state highway and arterial roads.

"We have crews working in each of our counties on potholes," Blaum said. "As our crews are coming upon them or we are learning of them, we're trying to get them filled as quickly as possible."

Friday's forecast called for a wintry mix.

"I'm just tired of it. It's not fun anymore," Wendel said of this winter. "This year has been crazy so far."

Anyone who sees a pothole on state roads in the five-county Philadelphia area can contact PennDot's pothole hotline at 1-800-349-7623.


sabdur-rahman@phillynews.com@sabdurr

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