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After the snow is gone, potholes could plague Oklahoma roads

Underneath the snow and ice the winter weather is taking its toll on Oklahoma roads and could be leaving behind a rash of spring potholes.
BY MICHAEL BAKER Published: February 4, 2011

While everybody is concerned about driving on the snow and ice, it's what is happening underneath that could have motorists cursing bumpy roads and governments stretching budgets for repairs into the summer.

“Our roads are going to take a terrible beating before this is finished,” said Oklahoma County District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan, who oversees road-clearing operations in his district.

“I would assume that patchwork will absolutely dominate not only the first part of the spring but probably the first part of the summer,” he said. “We'll obviously try to salvage what we can before we have to do total replacement.”

The accumulation of snow and ice, the freezing temperatures and the melting could lead to a rash of potholes and other rough road problems when the thaw is finished.

“Water is the most destructive thing to the roadways,” Oklahoma City street superintendent Mike DeGiacomo said. “You add to that any freezing; we know that when we finish these types of events, these crews are probably going to be working overtime on the back of a patch truck.”

Salt, scraping, melting

Salt, combined with repeated freezing and thawing, is a recipe for destruction.

Over the past two days, despite the below-freezing temperatures, sunshine has helped melt some of the snow and ice. When the sun goes down, the water refreezes, DeGiacomo said. When the snow and ice melts it can seep into cracks and then expand when it refreezes. That expands the cracks and can create a pothole.

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