Local motorists dodge winter potholes

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Highway crews work to fix weather-damaged pavement locally.
Tribune photo by Jay Langston

Anyone who drives very much in rural America knows that potholes are a highway hazard, and Marshall County’s roads are no exception.

Extreme cold followed by warm weather and rain is perfect recipe for potholes. Winter weather extremes lead to an increase in potholes on state and local highways and bridges. Potholes form when moisture seeps into cracks in the pavement, then freezes and thaws causing the cracks to expand. The constant pounding of traffic loosens the pavement causing it to crumble, creating potholes.

Severe swings in temperature such as Tennessee has experienced over the past several days, followed by periods of rain, are the perfect conditions for widespread potholes to form. Weather permitting, TDOT crews patch potholes on state routes, while Marshall County takes care of maintaining county roads.

Jerry Williams, Marshall County superintendent of highways, has his crews riding roads looking for potholes during the winter, as well as taking calls from concerned area motorists.

Tribune reader Cory Burns shared in a recent Facebook post that “Todd avenue” needs repairs. “Local utility companies dig up the road to run new lines and their patch jobs are mediocre,” which “counts as a pothole. Also, Rock Crusher Road (near the railroad tracks) is in poor condition, and has been for years.”

“Yes, Rock Crusher (Road) is very bad!,” Amber Wright, another Tribune reader agreed. “There’s one pothole that is very deep.”

“That hole on the side street between the Marvins store and Verona Caney Road. It’s horrible!,” reader Jennifer Fagan said. “Luckily I’ve always known it’s there, so I go around, but I’ve seen plenty of people hit it!”

“The pothole at the entrance of Franklin Road and North Ellington Parkway,” Ashley Leonard Davenport said needs attention. “They have patched the hole many times and it never stays. Not to mention side streets that join main roads. There are three big pot holes at the end of our road that people have to be easy driving over.”

During winter months, road maintenance crews typically rely on a “cold mix” asphalt as a temporary fix. Once warmer weather arrives and “hot mix” asphalt plants are operational, highway crews will perform more permanent repairs. “The asphalt plants close in winter, and they open in March,” Williams said. “When we hear about a pothole, we send out a man out there with cold mix. It doesn’t stay long. It’s a quick fix to keep people form bursting a tire. Thankfully, we haven’t had much winter this year.

TDOT spends approximately $2 million annually on statewide pothole repair.

Motorists are advised to be alert and watch for highway crews working on the highways and bridges. Tennessee state law requires motorists to move over or slow down for emergency, maintenance and construction vehicles or face a fine of up to $500.

To report a pothole on a Tennessee interstate or state route, visit TDOT’s web site, or call (931)359-4031 on county roads.