Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 27, 2014

Potholes haven’t been a huge problem in Pulaski

Somerset — Hitting a pothole deep enough to damage a wheel in a southbound lane of I-75 north of Richmond was a jarring reminder to check local road surfaces to see how the worst winter in 20 years has affected driving surfaces.

Generally, streets and roads in this area have made it to nearly spring in fairly good shape, much better than in Lexington and Louisville where television reports indicate streets and highways are pockmarked with potholes. Of course, there is more traffic in these metropolitan areas and both large cities have received much more snow this winter than has fallen in the Lake Cumberland area.

Potholes are not a major problem in Somerset but Mayor Eddie Girdler said the city’s Sanitation and Street Department is using a concrete mixture instead of cold asphalt to repair potholes that develop. Cold asphalt does not bond well to city street surfaces and the concrete mixture is a more permanent solution, Girdler said.

The mayor mentioned Bourne Avenue where utilities have been moved as an area where potholes have developed. He indicated these holes are being repaired with concrete mixture. Otherwise, he indicated city streets appear in good shape.

Amber Hale, public information officer for Kentucky Highway Department’s District 8, said despite the brutally cold winter, potholes are not a major problem in Pulaski County or the district.

“We have a crew from our Maintenance Department that goes out after it snows and checks conditions of road surfaces,” said Hale. “We haven’t had a lot of complaints,” she added.

State Highway Department maintenance crews repair potholes with a cold asphalt mixture, Hale said.

  Judge-executive Barty Bullock is not as optimistic about the condition of the some 1,800 miles of roads the county maintains.  

  “I don’t know the exact extent of it, but its going to be bad after all this cold and snow,” Bullock said. “Water seeps into the roadbed and freezes, uprooting the blacktop ... and snow plow blades often knock out chunks of blacktop.”

  Bullock said the Pulaski County Road Department uses cold asphalt mixture to repair roads where they can, but sometimes the road section has to be dug up and rebuilt.

  Formation of potholes during wintertime requires two factors to be present at the same time: Water and traffic. Water seeps into soil beneath the pavement and expands when it freezes, loosening the soil. Traffic applies loads that stress and break the pavement over the ice-loosened soil.

  Potholes can form progressively from fatigue of the road surface, which can lead to a precursor failure pattern known as crocodile cracking. Finally, chunks of pavement between the fatigue cracks gradually work loose, and may eventually be plucked or forced out of the surface by continued wheel loads, creating a pothole.

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