PennDOT working to keep up with early pothole season

Tim Jimenez
February 22, 2019 - 8:40 am
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Those dreaded potholes. They are everywhere. And PennDOT says crews, who are facing challenges, are doing their best to keep up.

It's like a game of Mario Kart out there. People weaving to avoid the rim rattling potholes that are peppering roads all across the region. John Krafczyk, assistant district executive for maintenance in the Philadelphia area, says pothole season got an early start again. 

READ: Pothole season comes early for drivers in Philly region

"Pennsylvania goes through a significant number of freeze/thaw cycles and that's the most detrimental thing to our pavement," he said. "You can have 40 degree temperatures today, but tonight it drops below freezing. So, all that water that seeped down into those cracks now freezes. And when water freezes, it expands and that just blows apart the cracks."

Crews are using "cold patch" or hot asphalt to fill the holes, but Krafczyk says they don't always have access to the hot material, which works better. 

"Plants close, plants aren't making the type of asphalt we need," he said, adding there is another method called spray patching.

"That's where we have a machine that actually sprays a liquid asphalt material and at the same time mixes it with stone. Those repairs, although they don't look pretty, they hold up pretty well," he said. "The issue with that is the material - our local plant that's close by is closed during the winter. So, we have to travel to York to get that material." 

PennDOT says since the beginning of the year they've used 1,412 tons of patching material to fix potholes across the five-counties in the Philly region.

The same crews that plow and salt, many who worked up to 18 hour days for the most recent winter storm, are patching up the potholes, PennDOT says. And a very important part of the process is for people to report the ones they come across. They can call 1-800-FIX-ROAD or go to penndot.gov

"When you do report them, if it's a really deep one, make note of that. Or, if it's a bunch of little ones, make note of that because it helps us prioritize what needs to get done," Krafczyk said, adding crews are deployed, area-by-area, so they can fill as many potholes as possible. 

"Just keep in mind that if we just took the complaints as they came in, we would spend half of our days driving around getting one here, one here, one there," he said. "But if there's one that's causing bent rims or flat tires (state police) will call us and we'll go take care of it." 

If you live in Philadelphia, you can report potholes to the Streets Department.

Drivers can report potholes along New Jersey highways and interstates to the New Jersey Department of Transportation.