Why Do Potholes Take So Long to Fix?


You’re running errands one afternoon when you hit a pothole – hard. It jolts you from your seat, wreaks havoc on your alignment and scratches your car. Potholes can be infuriating, and drivers often wonder what’s taking their local government so long to fix them. While several factors contribute to the delays, the good news is it’s possible for governments to maintain a more efficient system for detecting and fixing minor potholes before they become major ones.

How Potholes are Formed

Potholes, or holes in the roadway, differ in size and shape. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, they’re caused by excess water beneath the pavement, which weakens the soil – particularly during the spring months when the ground is thawing and saturated with water. The sidewalk begins to crack and can even break into pieces as cars and trucks travel over the weakened pavement.

Why Aren’t Potholes Fixed Right Away?

From the driver’s perspective, potholes languish for weeks and months, causing damage and frustration. So why aren’t they fixed immediately if they’re producing such serious problems?

Local Government Budgets. The public may have the perception that all their local government officials do is spend, spend, spend. In reality, however, money is tight at all levels of government, be they local, state or federal. Officials are responsible for doing more with less, stretching taxpayer money. Funds aren’t always available for all the road repairs that need to be completed. Therefore, the restoration of some potholes is delayed, much like a triage system.

Unreported Potholes. Surely someone has reported that awful pothole, right? Not necessarily. Some just haven’t been brought to the attention of the cities in which they’re located. Many cities provide online contact forms, dedicated hotlines, and even mobile apps for residents to report potholes.

Weather and Road Repairs. Cold climates are particularly susceptible to potholes. During the warmer months, hot asphalt can be manufactured and delivered to repair the holes. During the winter months (October through March or April), asphalt plants are typically closed in cities like Minneapolis. Instead, the city uses “cold mix,” a temporary solution until the warm weather returns and asphalt plants reopen. Unfortunately, however, the cold mix “doesn’t stick to very well to the inside of a pothole, and so the mix ends up pouring out of the hole.” Water can seep into the cold mass, freeze, expand and push the cold mix out of the pothole. Companies like DuraPatcher have developed alternative and more permanent methods of patching potholes in cold weather. However, most cities still rely on temporary patches during the winter months. While the government’s financial resources may be limited for repairs, it’s likely that cities are spending more than they need to by continually performing patch jobs, versus implementing a longer-view maintenance plan.

One of the most viable solutions for the nagging problem of potholes, however, is better tracking procedures, which can help greatly reduce government spending waste. Asset tracking can help governments better manage their limited dollars. An asset tracking system provides them with the hard numbers they need to make informed decisions. Additionally, a tracking system can city officials establish routine maintenance schedules and avoid costly repairs.

Efficiency in government spending is a vital component of the ultimate health of our communities. Asset Panda’s simple, the configurable platform enables government officials to access real-time data, schedule maintenance, submit work orders, create reports and realize greater efficiencies across the board as they become better stewards of their limited resources. To learn more about Asset Panda, go to assetpanda.com.



Courtney Roush

Courtney Roush is a freelance writer, editor, and communications strategist with 25 years of experience. Her favorite discipline is crisis communications – and it’s a highly relevant one in our present times.

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