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Now that it’s spring, it’s time to look out for those pesky potholes, and with the bipolar weather we’ve had, you can bet they will be pretty bad. Not for the first time, you’re wondering what the big deal is with potholes anyway. Well, here is the quick explanation you’ve been looking for.
Why Do They Form?
When water gets into the ground under the pavement, it can contract and expand, causing the asphalt to crack and break up. The more it cracks and the more it is aggravated by vehicle use, potholes can form.
Unfortunately, this newly created pothole now offers even more access for moisture to settle underneath the pavement. The cracking will not only get worse, but the road’s integrity will weaken around the site.
When Do They Form?
You typically see potholes in areas with temperatures that fluctuate from above to below freezing and back. For this reason, you’re probably more likely to have scarred roads in Idaho than in sunny California.
We see potholes appear in the Spring because of the large amounts of melting snow which soak into the ground. If temperatures have fluctuated throughout the winter (think of those days the streets were filled with slush, then were followed by super cold, icy days) the weather likely began its work early on. Now you get to see it’s puddle-filled masterpiece.
Can They Damage My Vehicle?
Yes, driving over a pothole can damage your vehicle. The seriousness of the damage will depend on the size of the pothole and the condition of your car at the time of contact.
Because of this, you should always drive carefully and avoid potholes when possible. For those situations where you aren’t able to avoid hitting one, your car will fair better if your tires are inflated appropriately, your steering is in good shape, and your shocks aren’t too worn to cushion the impact.
How Are They Repaired?
Asphalt repair is something people typically think must be handled by professionals hired through the city, and you can contact the city if there’s a repair you believe they should make.
But if you have your own asphalt drive or walkways, it’s important for you to know where to go. You can search for companies which specialize in paving and asphalt repair in your area either online who through recommendations from trusted friends or colleagues.
Or, if you’re feeling handy, you can buy an asphalt patching kit to make the repair yourself. There are plenty of additional instructional articles and videos to walk you through the process online if you need them.
Are There Road Construction Alternatives?
Some exciting proposed alternatives to our current road construction are things like self-healing asphalt (created by a materials scientist in the Netherlands), altered concrete composition to reduce environmental impact, or even adding bacteria to mixtures where it can then fill in cracks as it produces calcium carbonate.
Though these options may not be used yet, believe it or not, road construction today is better and safer than it has ever been. There are multiple types of asphalt mix to suit different roads and area conditions, and these roads have a lifespan of about 50 years.
So unless you want to start laying your own cobblestones, stick with the current road system and watch for the new innovations to come.
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