Severe Winter Storm is Over, But Watch for Potholes

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler
Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen “Rik” Ritzler
INDOT is urging drivers in Northwest Indiana to be on alert for potholes on interstates, U.S. highways, and state routes after the fluctuating temperatures following last week’s severe winter weather has caused numerous potholes to form quickly. As temperatures continue to rise and fall through the winter season, more potholes are likely to form.

INDOT said in a press release, “When the Indiana Department of Transportation is not clearing snow, ice or storm debris, crews are focused on maintaining and preserving the state’s roads and bridges, which mainly consists of pothole patching in the winter months.”

Potholes begin when water seeps into the cracks in a road and freezes, expanding the layers of pavement, stone and soil beneath the surface. As the ice melts and contracts, heavy highway traffic further loosens the pavement, forming potholes.

In Starke County, Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said the roads aren’t in too bad of shape, but there are some problem areas they’d like to address as soon as possible.

“We’re in pretty good shape; the drivers worked really hard to get things cleared out, and we put some material down. Now, obviously with the freeze-thaw, there are some problems on the roads, but right now we’re in pretty good shape. We have patch ready to go. We’re expecting snow in the next day or two, and when that calms down, we’re going to get out there and patch the roads,” Ritzler said.

With temperatures too low for paving, most of Indiana’s hot mix asphalt plants are now closed. During the winter INDOT uses cold mix – a mixture of small stone and liquid asphalt – as a temporary patch. Even after being filled with cold patch, the same pothole requires ongoing maintenance and can reopen several times throughout the winter. When the asphalt plants reopen in the spring, INDOT maintenance crews clean out and then repair potholes with hot mix, providing a smoother, more permanent fix.

To report a pothole on a numbered state route, interstate or U.S. highway, call 1-855-GO-INDOT.