Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Pothole Primer

El Niño not only means more rain, it also means more potholes. Where do these pesky highway hazards come from and what does Caltrans do to repair and prevent them? Read on to learn everything you ever wanted to know about potholes and were afraid to ask. 

Why are there so many potholes when it rains?

During inclement weather, water can seep through cracks in the pavement loosening the bond between the base pavement and the overlay pavement. That instability leads to potholes.

Do maintenance crews repair potholes during storms?

Yes. During storms, crews patrol their areas with pothole mix. They can fill a pothole as soon as they encounter one by implementing a lane closure or CHP traffic break. 

How long does it take to repair a pothole? 

Potholes are typically repaired the same day, depending on available resources, staffing, equipment availability, and other priorities. Caltrans’ top priority is always the safety of motorists and our crews.

How long will a pothole repair last? 

A temporary repair could last for a couple years or a few days, depending on the condition of the sub-base, traffic volume, truck traffic, weather, the material used, and the condition of the surrounding pavement. If a pothole in a severely distressed area on a major freeway is filled during a rainstorm, it will usually last through the storm until more permanent repairs can be made.  

Does Caltrans do anything to prevent potholes? 

Maintenance crews “winterize” the pavement by sealing cracks, patching corner breaks, and replacing bad slabs to keep water out. Caltrans also undertakes extensive preventive maintenance projects to identify and correct minor distress in the pavement before it occurs, extending service life. That helps reduce the exposure of crews to traffic and the inconvenience of closures to motorists. 

How can I report a pothole? 

The best way to report a pothole is to submit a Maintenance Service Request (here). You can also call us at (213) 897-3656.