INDIANAPOLIS — It’s a little early, but tis’ the season… for more potholes.
With Indianapolis temperatures forecast this week to ping-pong between the 10s and the 40s, experts say the seesawing is a perfect formula for pothole creation.
“That freeze/thaw cycle is absolutely the thing that causes that moisture that is on top of and under the road is what causes that pavement to start to buckle,” said Ben Easley, spokesperson for the city’s Department of Public Works.
Indy DPW has been preparing for this. Crews have been in classrooms and behind the wheels of snowplows getting ready for the prolonged season of multitasking. Easley says the same workers who drive the plows are also out patching potholes during winter.
What sticks best in a pothole is a so-called “hot patch” of heated asphalt. However, companies that produce these fixes tend to shut down that operation when colder weather settles in because demand drops off.
The result? Fewer potholes are effectively plugged, making for a bigger job come spring.
INDOT also operates a pothole repair operation through the winter, keeping an eye on state and US routes. In Marion County, a team of inspectors scouts on Sunday nights ranks potholes for repair and ranks them according to severity. The worse are tended to first, in hopes of making the Monday morning commute smoother.
Indianapolis city officials are on record saying true improvement in city streets and doing something meaningful about potholes will take a lot more money from state government.
Dan Parker, former head of the city DPW and now Mayor Joe Hogsett’s Chief of Staff, said he estimates it would take an additional $200m-$300M more from state government annually to make a real impact on Indianapolis streets.