published Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Cold weather leads to potholes

by Adam Crisp
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    Staff photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Motorists drive past potholes on eastbound Interstate 24 on Friday. Freezing and thawing temperatures contribute to creating potholes.

Blame the bumpy commute to work on the freezing temperatures.

Areas that are always a little rough usually get worse when water seeps into cracks, freezes, then expands, highway officials say.

“During the cold winter months, keeping our interstates and state routes smooth is challenging,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn.

A handful of roads are suffering throughout the region. In addition to all the chilly weather lately, there has been a large amount of rain.

A section of Interstate 24 over Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga is patched every spring. Gaping potholes there are caused by the freezing and thawing conditions mixed with the thousands of vehicles that pass over it every day, Ms. Flynn said.

Georgia Highway 337, south of Menlo in Chattooga County, washed out several weeks ago, officials said, and has yet to be repaired.

Georgia highway officials say that, on top of the freezing-thawing action, the chemicals used to keep roads ice-free also contribute to holes and wear-and-tear.

“The weather really does its trick on the roads, but so do the de-icing chemicals,” said Dr. Mohamed Arafa, a Georgia Department of Transportation spokesman.

Highway crews usually use a mix of salt and small rocks to keep the roads clear, Dr. Arafa said. But when temperatures dip below 25 degrees, GDOT adds calcium chloride, which can cause corrosion.

Chattanooga city workers also are battling the potholes across the city, said Director of Citywide Services Jim Templeton.

“We’re seeing the problem in areas all across the city,” Mr. Templeton said.

On top of that, it’s harder to fix roads in the cold weather.

The asphalt mixture works best in warm weather and cannot be applied at all in temperatures under 51 degrees, Mr. Templeton said.

“So when it gets warmer, we’ll have to go back and hit all the spots we repaired with the cold-weather mix,” he said.

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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