Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

January 17, 2014

Street officials worry about cold weather causing potholes

By Boris Ladwig Daily News
Greensburg Times

---- — GREENSBURG – Last week’s very cold weather and quickly rising temperatures have local street officials worried about potholes.

Greensburg Street Department Commissioner Klosterkemper said that the department’s primary challenge lies in battling declining revenues while material costs are rising.

He said the department gets its funding from the state, which collects the revenues from gasoline taxes. As motorists drive less or operate more fuel efficient vehicles, the state collects — and distributes — fewer dollars.

Meanwhile, asphalt prices have roughly doubled to $60 a ton in the last six years, Klosterkemper said.

And if the department spends lots of money on pothole repairs, it will have fewer dollars to spend this summer on resurfacing the city’s 70 miles of streets.

That means the local department plans to deal solely with the worst potholes.

City crews on Monday morning patched one of those areas, on Lincoln Street, south of the Decatur County Memorial Hospital, Klosterkemper said. The area has had drainage issues, which made the problem worse.

Any current fixes, however, will be just temporary, officials said, because hot-mix asphalt will not be available until March or April. Plants that produce hot-mix asphalt, which is used primarily in construction, shut down in the winter. Until spring, pothole patrols will make repairs with a liquid asphalt and construction aggregate, which includes gravel and crushed stone.

Harry Maginity, a spokesman for the Seymour District of the Indiana Department of Transportation, said depending on the number of freezes and thaws and the frequency with which a road is used, crews may have to make a temporary patch two or three times before the hot-mix asphalt becomes available.

“We just have to keep fighting,” Maginity said.

The Seymour District is responsible for 4,675 lane miles of state roads and 755 lane miles of interstate, according to its Facebook page.

Maginity said pothole problems become acute when the temperatures fluctuation often between freezing and just above freezing. When water enters a crack and freezes, it expands, which increases the size of the crack. In subsequent freezes, cracks get bigger, and eventually the weight of vehicles will break the pavement loose, and a pothole begins to form.

The state, too, is dealing with some declining revenues, as funding from Major Moves runs out, and is trying to compensate with some public-private partnerships, Maginity said.

Nonetheless, he said, potholes will be fixed, because they affect access and safety.

“We’re going to chase after them,” Maginity said.

The Decatur County Highway Department so far has received no reports about potholes on the 660 miles of county roads, but Superintendent Mark Mohr said he fears the recent weather may have caused more damage than during normal winters.

Potholes are coming, Mohr said. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

The county, too, is dealing with the same price spikes as the city, and Mohr said that whatever chunk of funds potholes take out of the department’s $600,000 road budget will not be available for road resurfacing this summer.

Potholes are “a burden,” Mohr said. “But they’re not going to be ignored, either.”

As soon as the weather gets better, Mohr said the department will dispatch its two pothole machines.

To report potholes:

City: 663-5634 or cityofgreensburg.com/street1.html

County: 663-2682 or mmohr@decaturcounty.in.gov.

INDOT: 877-305-7611

Contact: Boris Ladwig at 812-663-3111 x7410; boris.ladwig@greensburgdailynews.com