Plenty of potholes popping on pavement

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Laborers for the city of Escanaba Public Works Department Bob DeMars, left, and Robbie Lueneburg fill a pothole on the intersection of 15th Avenue North and Stephenson Avenue Tuesday.

ESCANABA — Spring is just around the corner in Delta County — a season which is marked by the appearance of potholes on local roads. Representatives of local road departments said the spring of 2018 could prove to be particularly difficult in this regard.

“I would say they’re worse this year,” Tom Boudreau, senior foreman for the city of Escanaba Public Works Department, said of potholes in the area.

According to Escanaba’s Interim Public Works Director Keith Marenger, potholes are largely caused by changing temperatures. As a result of temperature fluctuations (among other factors), small cracks can form in asphalt on area roads, allowing water from precipitation to reach the gravel and dirt under the roads. After the water freezes and expands, it melts, leaving a hole the top layer of asphalt collapses into.

“It’s … the thawing during the day and freezing at night,” Marenger said.

Pothole formation can be exacerbated by existing poor conditions and traffic on roads.

“Traffic has an impact on pothole creation,” Boudreau said.

Marenger said his department has been hard at work dealing with potholes in the area recently.

“We’ve put down, since November, 60 tons of what’s called ‘cold patch’,” he said. Currently, about three crews a day are working to fill potholes in Escanaba.

Boudreau encouraged people in the area to be patient.

“We’re responding as quickly as we can to all our roads, with major roads being a priority,” he said.

Potholes are also appearing in Gladstone.

“For us, I’ve noticed in the last three (to) four days … that a lot of potholes have been popping up,” Barry Lund said. Lund is the city of Gladstone’s public works coordinator.

Potholes could be made worse this spring due to the current state of many roads in Gladstone, Lund said.

“Our conditions of our roads (have) kind of been deteriorating over the years,” he said. He noted this is the case due to insufficient funding for road work.

To deal with these issues, Lund said crews in Gladstone have been out filling potholes as needed for roughly the past week. By the end of this week, he expects dedicated crews to be working on potholes for the following two weeks or so.

Jody Norman, managing director of the Delta County Road Commission (DCRC), said potholes have just begun appearing on roads in the county.

“We’ve been getting some holes here and there, but it’s just starting,” he said.

Based on weather conditions over the past year, he said this spring could be a difficult one for area road departments.

“I think it’s probably going to be a little worse than normal this year because of all the moisture in the ground,” Norman said.

However, he said spring weather will ultimately determine how this season goes for the DCRC.

“If it’s a slow thaw, then it won’t be as … volatile as it would typically be,” Norman said. He noted a fast thaw would have the opposite effect on roads in Delta County.