‘More than just a patch’

HAZARD: A pothole can be a damaging to motorists vehicles. A pothole near the intersection of Clark Street and Morrison Avenue is one of the many city officials plan on patching up this spring. (Pioneer Photo/Lonnie Allen)

HAZARD: A pothole can be a damaging to motorists vehicles. A pothole near the intersection of Clark Street and Morrison Avenue is one of the many city officials plan on patching up this spring. (Pioneer Photo/Lonnie Allen)

County road commissions deal with high number of potholes after harsh winter.

MECOSTA COUNTY — Springtime in Michigan and potholes are everywhere.

Dreaded by motorists, these road hazards are notorious for tire and wheel-rim damage, misalignment, premature wear on shocks and struts along with a list of problems a vehicle can suffer once a driver hits a deep divot in the road.

Although motorists are already frustrated with pothole season, the County Road Association of Michigan warns the worst is probably yet to come. Michigan residents have more to look forward to than just the opening of baseball season this week.

“As some areas in Michigan experience the first 50-degree days followed by rains later in the week, we will see even more craters emerge on our roadways,” County Road Association Director Denise Donohue warned. “Seasonal weight restrictions are in effect from our southern border with Ohio and Indiana to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, indicating that frost is leaving the ground and further destabilizing our roadbeds.”

On March 17, the Mecosta County Road Commission began enforcing seasonal weight restrictions on all county roads and doesn’t expect to lift them anytime soon.

“The weight restriction enforcement is indefinite right now,” said Joyce Randall, managing director.

Experts have predicted over the past several months that this would be the worst pothole season in memory, and local garages and tire companies are reporting a boom in business.

According to Michigan’s county road agencies, the winter of 2013-2014 pushed frost at least twice as deep in the ground as normal: four to six feet in some areas.

“The frost went deep this year and the freeze/thaw cycle is our culprit for making potholes. We expect to find many more as the weather warms,” Randall said.

With 80 percent of Michigan’s local road system is in fair or poor condition, and Michigan has a perhaps unparalleled recipe for creating potholes, according to the County Road Association of Michigan.

“By the time you see a crack in the road, the structural integrity of the road is already vulnerable,” Donohue said. “Michigan’s state and local road agencies will patch the potholes, but roads in these conditions need more than just a patch. They need a long-term funding solution and with each day that passes, the price tag inches up.”

The County Road Association of Michigan represents the state’s 83 county road agencies that collectively maintain 75 percent of Michigan’s road system, representing more than 90,000 miles of roads and 5,700 bridges – the fourth-largest local road system in the nation.

For now, patching the holes in county roads is all officials can do until the thaw is over. The patch method for roads in Mecosta County being used is a cold asphalt patch, Randall said.

“Cold asphalt patch is what we have available to us right now,” Randall said. “The cold patch isn’t the best solution but it’s a temporary fix to the problem, which seems to be a never-ending cycle.”

To report a pothole on county roads contact the Mecosta County Road Commission at (231) 796-2611.

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Posted by Lonnie Allen

Lonnie is the Pioneer's city/county reporter. He also coordinates the Gardens and Growers page. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8328 or by e-mail at lallen@pioneergroup.com.

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