01/31/14 An outbreak of potholes erupted throughout northern Indiana following the extreme weather conditions the week of January 5th. Historically low temperatures gave way to a 50+ degree swing in less than 24 hours. The dramatic freeze/thaw was a recipe for one of the worst outbreaks of potholes many in northern Indiana had seen. This week has seen nearly a foot of snow in some areas combined with subzero temperatures and wind chills of -30. Thursday’s high temperatures brought about a another 30+ degree swing in 24 hours. Now the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is warning drivers to watch out for another round of potholes on interstates, U.S. highways, and state routes.
Due to this historic winter weather crews in the northern Indiana Districts have been on alternating 12 hour shifts for the majority of the last four weeks to ensure roads are being maintained 24 hours a day. When not working to remove snow and ice, crews are patching potholes. They are working day and night to fill potholes as quickly as possible, but with 5,000 lane miles to maintain, it’s a big job and it will take time.
Potholes begin when water seeps into the cracks in a road and freezes, expanding the layers of pavement, stone and soil beneath the surface. As the ice melts and contracts, heavy highway traffic further loosens the pavement, forming potholes.
With temperatures too low for paving, most of Indiana’s hot mix asphalt plants are now closed. During the winter INDOT uses cold mix – a mixture of small stone and liquid asphalt – as a temporary patch. Even after being filled with cold patch, the same pothole requires ongoing maintenance and can reopen several times throughout the winter. When the asphalt plants reopen in the spring, INDOT maintenance crews clean out and then repair potholes with hot mix, providing a smoother, more permanent fix.
For the past several years, INDOT has been expanding its pavement preservation program to improve pavement friction and seal cracks before potholes form. In the fiscal year ending June 2013, INDOT performed chip seal operations on 1,514 lanes miles of state highways and applied a thin overlay surface treatment on an additional 371 lane miles. For every dollar invested, research estimates that pavement preservation saves taxpayers $6 to $14 in future maintenance and construction costs.
To report a pothole on a numbered state route, interstate or U.S. highway in northern Indiana call 1-855-GO-INDOT.
INDOT urges motorists to slow down and stay alert when encountering pavement maintenance crews. Drivers in northern Indiana can monitor road closures, road conditions, and traffic alerts at any time via the INDOT social media channels: www.Facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest or Twitter @INDOTNorthwest. Or visit http://www.trafficwise.in.gov for INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service.