DETROIT (WWJ) – The Michigan Department of Transportation is asking drivers to be on pothole patrol.
Unseasonably warm temperatures provide a nice break from Michigan’s long winter, but they also offer another break that’s not so nice. With each sustained warmup, the roads that have been frozen begin to thaw from the surface downward, and the melting snow and ice saturate the ground. The roadbed, softened by trapped moisture beneath the pavement, is more susceptible to damage during every significant thaw.
A sustained thaw typically happens only once a year in the spring but not this year. Continuous temperatures above and below freezing have created several freeze-thaw cycles, which also create potholes.
“It’s normal to get a few days throughout the winter that are warmer than usual, but this year has been unusually sporadic,” State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle said in a statement. “Extreme temperature fluctuations create many issues for road maintenance.”
Potholes are most prevalent during freeze/thaw cycles, when water penetrates the pavement surface and refreezes, pushing the pavement up. Vehicles then push the pavement back down, breaking it and starting a pothole.
“The quicker we know about where potholes are forming, the sooner we can get them patched,” said MDOT Engineer of Operations Mark Geib. “Patching them won’t last, but will help get us through until warmer temperatures are sustained.”
If you spot a pothole on an I-, US- or M-route, you can report it to the MDOT Pothole Hotline at 888-296-4546. You can also report a pothole online at MDOT’s “Report a Pothole” website, or by calling your local MDOT Transportation Service Center.