Pothole season is here, crews busy repairing them

Potholes have formed on roads this winter.{ }Potholes are created when snow and ice melt as part of Michigan's seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. Moisture seeps into the pavement, freezes, expands and thaws, creating a gap in the pavement. (WWMT/Randi Burns)

The month of February kept crews with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Services busy with snow and ice removal, water main breaks and potholes.

As winter continues, potholes have started to increase in numbers on the roads, but they seem to appear overnight and keep crews busy.

"It is a pretty busy season for us, certainly from a streets maintenance standpoint," Director of Public Services and City Engineer, James Baker said. "Our crews are constantly in response mode to that [winter maintenance]. We work 24/7 in response to that activity."

Potholes typically form during the winter thaw and freeze cycle. They are formed when snow and ice melt and the moisture seeps into the pavement, refreezes, expands and thaws, creating a gap in the pavement. As vehicles drive over the gap, the pavement weakens, which creates a pothole.

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Services had the opportunity to send crews out to repair a few potholes, but they only have the chance to do so when there is a break in the winter weather.

"If we get a little bit of a break in the weather and we are able to go out on clean roads, where we've removed the ice and snow, then we're able to get in some patching time," Baker said. "Now as we transition more into spring, and we've got more of the snow pushed back, we're not dealing with the snow events day to day or hour by hour, we'll start assigning more crews to patching routes and actually start spending more time on the patching."

The department relies on public assistance to gathering what streets potholes are located in Kalamazoo. The color of the street sign indicates what city services the street: Blue is Kalamazoo, green is Portage and white is Kalamazoo County roads.

If you have a pothole to report in the city of Kalamazoo the Department of Public Services asked you to call 269-337-8362 to report the divot.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) also has a way to report potholes on the roads they are responsible for. Use MDOT's Report a Pothole form or call 888-296-4546 to report potholes on state roads. Most state roads begin with M, I or U.S. designations, such as Interstate 94, Michigan Route 46 or U.S. Route 131.

MDOT gave some tips on how to deal with potholes:

  • Be vigilant – extra vigilant.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • Have your vehicle's suspension and steering components checked out by a qualified mechanic.
  • If you see a pothole ahead and can't safely steer to avoid it, it's best to slow down, then release the brakes before you hit the pothole.

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