Drivers, Road Crews Deal With Perfect Conditions For Potholes

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(Host) The combination of the third snowiest winter on record and rain in March has created the perfect conditions for potholes.

These hazards open up every spring and pothole season is only a few weeks old. But the Vermont Agency of Transportation says it’s already spent its entire repair budget.

Crews have been especially busy patching holes on state roads, and even the interstates. And wet conditions mean the patches aren’t sticking.

VPR’s Melody Bodette reports.

(Bodette) Vermonters seem to view potholes as a small speed bump on the road to warm weather, like these people filling their gas tanks on U.S. Route 7 in South Burlington:

(Paul Miller) "There’s a lot of potholes, but we’ve had a really bad winter. It’s going to snow again and hopefully when the snowing stops, they’ll start fixing potholes."

(Todd Larrow) "My name’s Todd Larrow. They are very bad and I’d love to see them fix ‘em, but what we going to do?"

(Bodette) Drivers feel differently when there’s damage to their car. Here’s Alison Logan in Shelburne:

(Alison Logan) "The final length of road that I have to travel is making me have to go and get my car aligned, because there are so many potholes. It is a atrocious and really this year is the one we’ve noticed the most difference, don’t you think? It’s really ruining our cars and our tires. 

(Bodette) Mike Lander of Tire Warehouse in South Burlington says he’s had plenty of customers come in for repairs this spring:

(Mike Lander) "Most every time they come in it’s a rim repair, too, or a new rim. There’s definitely a lot of upset people out there, especially when they just blew $500-$600 on winter tires and they find out a week and a half later that they hit a pothole that it’s not covered and they’ve got to spend another $130 to get another one."

(Bodette) While roads across the state are in poor condition, Lander and his crew have identified one location that’s especially bad, at least in Chittenden County:

(Mike Lander) "Mainly from Williston Road, actually is where they’re coming from."

(Bodette) And that’s where the two-person maintenance crew of Al Bushway and Penny Barber are filling potholes.

(Barber) "We do this daily and have been for the last four weeks. The first few weeks were really treacherous ‘cause they were really deep. People will honk and wave and say, ‘Thank you.’ And then you’ve got those who you’re disrupting their routine."

(Bodette) The Agency of Transportation says potholes are caused by water that seeps into cracks in the pavement. When that water freezes, cracks expand. Eventually the asphalt pops out, creating potholes.

Bushway shovels the hot black substance into potholes as cars veer around him.

(Bushway) "This is hot, but it’s called a cold patch. OK? It’s not a permanent fix. It’ll just pack down and hopefully it’ll last long enough to the summertime when we can put some hot mix in here."

(Bodette) "So you’ll be back here in a couple months?"

(Bushway) "More than likely, yes." (laughs)

(Bodette) Cars passing over the freshly packed holes help to tamp down the mix. But snow plows can tear the patch out. So if there are more snow storms, road crews expect to patch more freshly re-opened potholes.

For VPR News, I’m Melody Bodette in Williston.

(Host) By the way, the Agency of Transportation says you can let your local district office know about problem potholes.

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