With spring comes filling of the potholes

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – As the ice and snow recedes here in the Northeast, crews across the state head out to fill the potholes winter weather left behind.

Like many roads in Providence, just a few weeks ago Manton Avenue was littered with craters. There was even a hole deep enough to expose the rebar underneath, leading one motorist to complain about having to slow down. He says, "I can't even do five miles an hour, this one need to be fixed bumpy bumpy "

Luckily for him, that hole has been fixed. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras says the city is committed to fixing potholes, and Manton Avenue is good evidence of that. But there's still a lot to be done, not just in Providence but statewide.

"It's actually a very big priority for us," says Paul Annarummo, head of Maintenance for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. Every winter, water seeps into cracks in the road, turns to ice and pushes up pavement. It happens every year, but Annarummo says this winter was worse than most.

"We had so much moisture. That is what has caused this to be a very active pothole season," says Annarummo.

As Rhode Islanders know well, a little pothole is a small nuisance, but a large one on a busy street, or even the Interstate, can be a serious problem. Annarummo says, "We sometimes have to close lanes on the interstate. If possible we to do it at night when the traffic is less, but if a pothole is dangerous we will attack it immediately during the day."

The good news is, now that spring has arrived, crews are better equipped to fix the holes. In the winter, asphalt plants are usually closed, so crews have to use dry asphalt and find a day when winter storms aren't keeping them inside. Warm weather means they can switch to the hot patch, which adheres to the existing road much better.

In North Providence, a pothole crew in big orange trucks cruises down Douglas Avenue, and stops at a slew of small holes. The crew jumps out of their trucks. One person directs traffic as the trucks block one of the lanes; the other three hurry to shovel hot asphalt into the holes. They press the asphalt in using a small hand tamper, and fill the hole. The crew jumps back into their trucks, drive up the road about a hundred feet, and repeats the process.

The street still isn't in perfect condition. But it's expensive to repave roads, so for now, we'll have to be satisfied. As the people whose job it is to fix the streets every spring know, potholes will always be with us.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@wrni.org.