The extreme amounts of snow, ice and cold this winter have taken a toll on Iowa roads. Motorists are running into more potholes than usual for this time of year and Iowa Department of Transportation Maintenance Engineer Bob Younie says there’s not much road crews can do about it right now.
“The problem with potholes this time of year is it’s very difficult to do a repair that’s going to be very effective for any duration,” Younie said. State and city work crews use an asphalt patch as a temporary fix, but the patch usually doesn’t stay in place for long.
“The materials we use just aren’t effective when the temperatures get down as low as they are right now,” Younie said. Potholes are just part of the problem. There are also bumps in Iowa roads around construction joints.
“All pavement has joints in it and as water goes down into the pavement through the joint…it freezes and expands and heaves the pavement up in that spot,” Younie explained. He compares the situation on Iowa roads to sticking a can of soda in a freezer. At first, the cold temperatures make the can bulge.
Eventually, the pressure can cause the can to burst. Younie says it’s difficult for crews to fix the potholes while also keeping the roads clear of snow and ice. “Maintenance crews will fix the worst pot holes, but some of the ones that are more shallow (motorists) will just have to drive over until they can get to ’em,” Younie said.
When spring finally arrives, many of the bumps in the construction joints will fix themselves. Younie says public works crews are quickly draining their budgets on snow removal and may not have all the money they need this spring to fix roads that need repaired.