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Potholes: An explanation about every driver’s worst enemy

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Potholes are everybody’s number one enemy this time of year but while people hate on them, they’re actually a consequence of the unseasonable spring like weather we’ve grown to love. 

“They’re pretty bad and I don’t think it’s going to get any better,” said Donna of Middlebourne, West Virginia, as she was dodging potholes through the Walmart parking lot in Moundsville. 

David Hicks is from Arkansas but he moved to the Ohio Valley for work. He was not happy after he said he nearly knocked his front tire while driving over a pothole early Friday afternoon. 

“This is the worst place and I travel all the time. This is the worst place I’ve ever been,” Hicks said. 

So where do potholes come from?

The American Public Works Association calls it a gestational process and involves three layers: pavement, sub-base and soil. The melted snow and rain leaks through the pavement and into the sub-base. That water stores underneath and softens the pavement. After of series of freeze thaw periods the ice expands, lifts and cracks the pavement from the inside out. Once vehicles start traveling over these soft patches the ground crumbles and forms potholes. 

“You’re coming down the road you hit a pothole this big and your whole wheel falls off in it,” said Hicks. 

The pavement process is rather restricting and weather dependent. The hot patch process works best. That’s when the debris and water are removed and filled with a heated asphalt mix. This is the more sustainable option but it’s only possible when weather warrants.

On winter days, the West Virginia Division of Highways fills potholes with cold patch. This is a temporary fix where crews blitz the roads by quickly compressing the patch material into the potholes one by one.

7News reached out to the West Virginia Division of Highways to learn what their attack plan is for road repairs this season but nobody was available when we called.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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