Booster

Pothole season returns with a vengeance

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Brenda Pinnell sees it a few times a week: a car sustains major damage from hitting a large pothole.

Bent wheels, blown tires, out-of-whack alignment and ruined suspensions -- all attributed to gaping holes in the roadway.

"And they don't do a little bit of damage," said Pinnell, who owns Bernie's Garage in Clintonville. "You're talking $800 to $1,500 in damage -- and that's with used parts."

The city of Columbus reports it's working diligently to fix potholes throughout its territory. But for the time being, the weather is not cooperating.

Rick Tilton, assistant director of public service, said as temperatures range between the high teens and below zero, workers are only able to temporarily fix the potholes using a cold mix, a blend of crushed asphalt and some binders.

The problem, Tilton said, is it doesn't adhere to the pothole walls.

A permanent fix, using hot mix, will come when temperatures are above freezing for an extended period of time, and there's no snow or rain predicted.

"It's difficult to do permanent fixes in these temperatures," Tilton said. "It's just a fact of nature.

"We share the same frustration other cities have to go through in this weather."

Potholes form when water leaks into porous concrete and asphalt. When the water freezes and turns to ice, it expands, creating holes in the roadway. Cars run over the potholes time and time again, making them bigger.

Tilton said fluctuations in temperatures, going above and dipping below freezing, exacerbate the situation.

The good news, he said, is the number of potholes has been sharply declining over the past three years. The mayor and City Council invested $110 million in resurfacing 450 streets citywide between 2010-13.

The city repaired 134,000 potholes in 2010. That number jumped to 190,000 in 2011, before falling to 130,000 in 2012 and decreasing again, to 117,000, in 2013.

"You've got new pavement down and new pavement is far less susceptible to potholes than old pavement," Tilton said.

Some motorists who believe the city didn't act in a reasonable and timely manner to fix a pothole might be eligible for reimbursement for damage to their vehicles, the City Attorney's Office said.

As road crews are out looking to patch up the roadways, residents are asked to call the city's help line -- 614-645-3111 -- to report potholes.

"That is just essential," Tilton said. "We need all the eyes we can get on these potholes because they can pop up pretty quickly."

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