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Freeze-thaw cycle from heavy early snows yields increased potholes

Post Date:02/26/2020 11:05 AM

Each year, it’s inevitable that potholes form on our roadways. These potholes are a result of Longmont’s seasonal freeze-thaw cycles, and this season’s heavy snowfalls in November and February have been especially hard on our roads.

Why Do Potholes Form?

Potholes begin after snow or rain seeps into the soil below the road surface. As the temperatures cool to freezing at night, the water becomes ice and expands below the pavement, forcing the pavement to rise. As the weight of traffic continues to pound on this raised section–and the temperatures once again rise above freezing–a shallow divot occurs under the surface and the pavement breaks, forming a pothole.

How Do We Repair Potholes?

Each year, usually in the spring, our road maintenance crews begin working to fill potholes. Contractors are also often brought in during pothole season to help the City make repairs more quickly. Our strategy is to start with the highest traffic roads and then progress to side streets and neighborhoods.

This year, City crews are beginning to address potholes even earlier, using temporary patches during warmer days to fill some of the worst offenders on high traffic roads. You'll see these pothole filler trucks moving slowly down the road with hazard lights on and directional arrows flashing to help drivers be aware of them. Please give them space so they can help improve your daily drive.

Potholes are either filled with temporary cold mix or longer-term hot mix patches. Hot mix asphalt is more readily available in late spring and summer, so any temporary patches do receive permanent repair later in the season.

You Can Help!

In addition to giving the pothole filler trucks plenty of space to work, there is another way you can help in the fight against potholes.

City maintenance personnel routinely inspect major roadways and connecting streets, monitoring them for many conditions, including the development of potholes. You can be our extra eyes on the road and let us know about potholes along your travel routes.

If you notice a pothole forming along a street or on-street bike lane in Longmont, you can report it in one of two ways:

  1. Submit a Streets and Traffic Repair Request 24/7 online at ServiceWorks.LongmontColorado.gov
  2. Call 303-651-8416 between 8 am-5 pm Monday-Friday

Ultimately, taking care of potholes in a timely manner prolongs a street's useful life and reduces future maintenance and rehabilitation costs. With your help, we can fight back against potholes and work together to keep our streets well-maintained.

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