Fluctuating temperatures have potholes sprouting up like weeds

Fluctuating temperatures have potholes sprouting up like weeds

URBANA — With temperatures fluctuating, potholes are appearing, and cities are trying to keep up.

"Up until this recent warmup, we didn't really have much of a problem," said John Collins, operations manager for the Urbana Public Works Department. "Everything stayed cold and frozen."

Potholes form when water expands and contracts under a road, forming cracks that traffic exacerbates.

"When it's fluctuating above and below freezing, and raining, that's the perfect time for potholes to show up," Collins said. "Unfortunately, public works can't fix a pothole before it becomes a pothole."

But Urbana does have a new tool to fix them. It bought a spray-patch truck last year for $216,040, which allows a single person to patch potholes without having to leave the cab.

The patches should last longer, Collins said, though right now, Urbana has mostly been filling holes the traditional way.

"We will be trying to do some of the (spray-patch method) this winter," Collins said, but workers cannot use the technique when temperatures are below 30 degrees and the pavement is wet.

Champaign has had the spray-patch truck for a while now, said Kris Koester, spokesman for the public works department, though it has also been mostly using the traditional method.

Collins said each pothole only takes a few minutes to fill.

"It depends on the size of the pothole," he said. "But by the time we sweep it clean, work in the material, roll it with a vehicle a couple times, make sure it's smooth, and clean up, it's just a few minutes per pothole."

Collins said crews fill in potholes in roughly the same order they plow snow.

"We focus on the business districts and around the schools, then go through the residential routes, filling potholes as needed and as they're reported to us," he said.

Collins and Koester encouraged residents to contact the cities' public works departments to let them know where potholes are, either through their websites or by phone.

Champaign residents can report potholes by phone via the "SeeClickFix" app.

Urbana Public Works:

— 217-384-2342

Champaign Public Works:

— 217-403-4700