TRENTON – NJDOT maintenance crews are busily filling potholes along state highways, although the task is not as considerable this year thanks to an exceptionally mild winter.
The department’s nearly 500 maintenance workers fill potholes year-round, but spring is traditionally the busy time of year for road crews because fluctuating temperatures above and below the freezing mark help produce potholes. The mild winter, however, along with major investments in roadway rehabilitation and specific maintenance efforts aimed at preserving roads, have reduced this year’s crop.
NJDOT crews have filled approximately 81,000 potholes during the first nine months of FY 12, through March 30, 2012. In comparison, crews filled about 108,000 in the same nine-month period of FY 11.
During the entire fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, NJDOT crews filled over 152,000 potholes.
Potholes can create safety hazards and can cause damage to vehicles, so motorists are urged to report any pothole they observe on a state or interstate highway to NJDOT. A reporting form is available online on the NJDOT homepage at www.nj.gov/transportation.
Among the factors contributing to fewer potholes this spring is major roadway rehabilitation investments in recent years on such heavily traveled roads as I-295, I-78 and I-80. Aggressive maintenance programs to seal cracks have also helped extend the life of roads by preventing water from seeping into pavement, where it can cause damage that eventually leads to potholes.
The department is also seeing the benefits of permanent patch operations that are more time-consuming than throw-and-go patch methods, but produce a much longer-lasting repair. This technique involves cutting straight borders around the entire affected section, removing several inches of the old road surface, painting the edges with liquid tar and filling with hot patch before tamping or rolling.
Additionally, the department leased six pothole-filling machines that have been in use since December. The machines create a longer-lasting patch than can be obtained with the type of asphalt patch material that is available during cold-weather months.
The reduced demands on maintenance crews to fill potholes allows workers to pivot to other tasks, such as picking up litter, painting over graffiti, fixing damaged guide rail, mowing, and cleaning storm-water inlets.
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