Lingering cold helps A-K Valley dodge pothole season
Folks throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley are all too familiar with the loud thud of their car hitting a pothole this time of year. But PennDOT and Alle-Kiski Valley road officials agree that this pothole season is less severe than normal.
Experts believe that can be attributed to winter weather lingering longer than usual, which allowed less time for freeze-thaw cycles.
Potholes are created when water seeps into cracks in the road and then freezes.
When the water freezes, it expands. When it melts again, it leaves gaps where the ice used to be and weakens the road.
Cars driving over these cracks cause potholes. The process, commonly known as freeze-thaw, happens more when a harsh winter is followed by a warm spring.
According to the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, the average temperature in January and February of the winter of 2011-12 was 34.1 degrees. That was followed by an unseasonably mild March in 2012, which an average temperature of 51.5 degrees.
This winter, January and February had an average temperature of 30.1 degrees, and March's average temperature was only 35.9.
“I believe it's because there are less freeze-thaw cycles than normal,” said Steve Kanas, public works director for Allegheny Township, of the fewer potholes his crew has seen.
Kanas said that normally his department has patched about 25 potholes by this time of the year.
“I'd say this year, we've maybe only seen about five or six,” he said. “It's a lot less than normal.
“I don't believe we've had any complaints, which is a good thing.”
Jeff Florentine, a public works foreman in West Deer, agrees.
“It hasn't been too bad at all this year,” he said.
Florentine said he couldn't quantify the number of potholes his crews usually patch in a year, but said there have been fewer than normal this year.
Allegheny Township and West Deer aren't alone in reporting a lack of potholes.
According to PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan, there have only been 88 complaints placed to the Allegheny County Maintenance Office since the beginning of the year.
That's down from 108 complaints through the same period last year.
Likewise, Cowan said statewide PennDOT has used 335 tons of patching material during this pothole season — just about half of the 666 tons of patch needed in the winter of 2011-12.
Cowan attributes the drastic drop to a couple things.
“One is definitely weather-related,” he said. “... (T)he type of winter weather we receive can dictate the amount we have to tend to.
“The other is what type of work we're out doing. If, for example, we have planned to do crack sealing for spring time, we might not have as much patching.”
Pittsburgh Mills mall had a bunch of potholes, but they have been patched.
Jerry Crites, the mall manager, attributed the potholes to more traffic and less time to pave.
“Of course, we want to make sure our parking lots are paved for our customers,” he said.
Brackenridge an exception
While most Alle-Kiski Valley drivers haven't had to swerve around the pesky potholes, drivers in Brackenridge haven't been as lucky.
According to Brackenridge Mayor Tom Kish, some of the borough's main arteries are full of potholes, and there isn't much the borough can do.
Kish said a steady stream of ultra-heavy trucks delivering supplies to help construct the new mill at Allegheny Ludlum in Harrison causes constant potholes.
“There are dozens of them on Morgan Street and First Avenue,” he said. “We patch them and then two or three days later, the trucks pull the patch out again.
“We patch there constantly, but we can't keep up with them,” he said. “Through the years of this construction, thousands upon thousands of big trucks have traveled through Brackenridge.
“Our roads just can't handle that type of traffic.”
Kish said that he has noticed that there seems to be fewer cases of potholes this year on other roads not traveled by those construction trucks.
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 4 plead guilty to charges of luring, beating man at Harrison gas station
- Return of Verona’s Doughboy statue delayed
- Generous Leechburg boy receives Christmas surprise from secret Santa
- New Kensington-Arnold confronts ‘frightening’ budget situation
- Bed and breakfast proposed at former Liperote Mansion in South Buffalo Township
- Valley reaches out to brighten East Deer cancer patient’s holiday
- Kiski Area gets $25,000 from safe driver contest
- Hays ‘eagle cams’ reinstalled for 2015 nesting season
- Harmar to consider offer to drill under township land
- Shooting victim identified by New Kensington police as man hit in summer
- Apollo residents urged to ‘take back community’