The pothole problem: How they form and how the city is smoothing its roads

The pothole problem: How they form and how the city is smoothing its roads


SOUTH BEND, Ind.,--Spring starts in just 32 days-- while warmer weather may spark some joy—the fluctuating temperatures can also be the source of a major nuisance: potholes.

Potholes are more prominent during the winter because of the freeze-thaw cycle that fuels pothole formation. When rain and snow fall on roadways, the moisture seeps into the ground below. As it freezes, ice pushes the pavement up, but as it gets warmer, the ice melts away, leaving a gap between the pavement and the ground below it.

Now, the final factor that contributes to the formation of potholes is the stress from vehicles. As cars and trucks drive over that gap, the weight causes the surface to crack--and eventually, fall into the hollow space.

The deputy director of the South Bend Department of Public Works, Jitin Kain says that South Bend is working to prevent pothole formation. “We have a pretty aggressive maintenance program now where we do crack sealing and micro-surfacing to make sure that potholes don’t form.”

Some residents expressed their disdain toward potholes.

“I just don’t like them, they’re very annoying. My mom popped her tire on one of them a couple of days ago. It was not fun.”

“I was actually going to a job interview and I actually hit a pothole on my left, driver’s side. And I didn’t realize it until a block away from the job interview, it went flat.”

Even if you’ve had a rough past with potholes, they don’t have to hurt your car. Make sure your tires are inflated properly and have good tread. If contact is inevitable, make sure to slow down, release your brake, and straighten your steering wheel. And make sure to stay alert on the road at all times- especially if there is standing water- like many flood-prone areas will see over the next couple days.

The city of South Bend allows residents to easily report potholes. Kain says that any pothole reported will be filled within 48 hours if you call 311 or visit the city’s website and report a pothole.

Kain also wants people to know that the timeframe is weather-dependent and crews cannot fill potholes on rainy or snowy days. The city of South Bend will only send crews to streets within the city limit that are not state or county roads. If you’d like to report a pothole on a state route or county road, contact the Indiana Department of Transportation.

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