By Christine Bryant
Drivers in central Ohio have had a bumpy ride during the past few weeks.
Potholes are wreaking havoc on roadways this season, causing flat tires, bent rims and lots of frustration expressed on local social media pages.
Add in a roller coaster of deep freezes and warm-ups the area has faced this winter, and this has been an extraordinarily busy season for street crews, says Keith Kundtz, street and stormwater superintendent for the city of Reynoldsburg.
“I would say that this season’s prolonged sub-freezing temperatures have made the roads worse than the previous years,” Kundtz said.
Potholes occur after water has entered the ground under the pavement, he said. When water freezes, it expands, taking up more space under the pavement. The pavement then begins to expand, bend and crack, weakening the asphalt.
Once the ice melts, the pavement contracts, leaving gaps under the pavement where water can be trapped. If another cold spell moves in and the water freezes, the same process occurs again, causing further weakening and cracking of the pavement.
The weight of vehicles then further weakens already frail spots, creating a pothole.
Though potholes may start to form early in the season, city workers cannot permanently fix the holes until later in the spring.
“Most asphalt plants don’t open until mid- or late-April when the temperatures are consistently warmer,” Kundtz said.
In the meantime, for temporary fixes, the city uses a cold patch, a type of asphalt that can be applied quickly to the hole without the need for heating.
“We have been patching holes in the same order that we treat snow,” Kundtz said. “First are mains, secondaries and then residential roads.”
Since Jan. 1, the city has used more than 26 tons of cold patch.
Kundtz asks that residents driving on the roads watch out for crews patching the holes and doing other work on the 112 miles of streets within the city.
“I would like to ask for people to please put down their cell phones, and be alert and courteous to my guys in the roadway trying to fix the roads,” he said.
Anyone who wishes to report a pothole within the city of Reynoldsburg can call the street department at (614) 322-5800.