Winter weather is wreaking havoc on Columbus” streets, but city crews still are fighting an ongoing battle, said Public Works Director Mike Pratt, offering a primer on potholes.
City crews use “cold mix,” a mixture of aggregate and asphalt, from APAC or Cold Mix, Inc. to fill potholes.
“Cold mix is not a permanent repair, but it”s the standard for pothole repair,” Pratt explained. “A permanent repair would be to put hot mix in it, which is what they normally use to pave roads with.”
In addition to being more expensive, using hot mix is not a practical way to repair potholes, Pratt said..
The mix cools too rapidly, making it unwieldy for city crews, which often drive the streets looking for potholes in need of filling.
“Hot mix is more for patching bigger holes,” Pratt said. “It”s unusable once it”s cooled.”
Contrary to popular belief, pothole filler doesn”t wash away in the rain, but water, especially when it freezes, is lethal to roads, causing more potholes.
“(Cold mix) stays in the hole,” Pratt explained. “But when it rains, (water) gets into every crack in the road. Cars put pressure on the water in the cracks of the road and the water is forced into seams and voids of the asphalt, which causes it to break up, forming more potholes.”
It”s a vicious cycle, but city crews are undeterred, Pratt said.
“We”ve refocused our efforts and have a crew in every ward,” he noted. “Our goal is to keep a crew in every ward, filling every pothole they come across. Pothole repairs are an every day, all year long cycle.”
Normally, 10 percent of city crews each day are handling pothole repairs, but now, because of recent inclement weather, the Public Works Department has 40 percent of its crews repairing potholes daily.
“We find them by driving around and, if a citizen finds one and calls it in to the Action Center, we get that report as soon as it”s called in,” Pratt said. “We understand potholes pop up every day. If people would just be patient, we”re working to fill them in every day.”
To report a pothole, call the city”s Action Center at 662-329-5147.
“The more specific the location (in the report), the quicker we can get to it,” Pratt noted.