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Pothole season begins as winter wanes

| Tuesday, March 4, 2003

In western Pennsylvania residents have to learn to take the good with the bad.

The good news is that spring is on the way and temperatures will soon begin to warm up.

But rising temperatures create a new problem for motorists and road crews: potholes.

Road officials believe the harsh winter might make this year's pothole season worse than usual.

Officials said even though a great deal of time and money were spent on clearing snow and spreading salt on the roads, there is enough money budgeted to take care of the annual spring time potholes.

Potholes are formed when moisture seeps into the asphalt, it freezes and the ice expands. When the ice thaws and traffic travels across the asphalt, the asphalt crumbles and holes form.

"This has been a harsh winter for the roads," said Jim Struzzi, PennDOT District 10 spokesman.

District 10 covers five counties, including Butler and Armstrong.

Struzzi said rising daytime temperatures coupled with temperatures below freezing fter dark can cause potholes to form overnight.

Local officials said road crews already have begun to fill the annoying and sometimes dangerous holes that have begun to form in the past several weeks.

"This is the time of year they're going to start cropping their ugly heads up," said Lower Burrell City Engineer Guy Cunningham.

He said on days when the weather allows, crews look for and fill potholes.

Like everywhere else, municipal road crews are responsible for filling potholes that occur on streets owned by the city, and PennDOT is responsible for filling holes on state roads. In Lower Burrell, for example, there are more than 10 state roads, according to Cunningham, including Leechburg Road and Route 56.

Harrison Township Public Works Superintendent Jeff Hines said he has ordered 50 tons of cold patch, the material used in cold weather to fill the holes, and it will probably be used up in two weeks.

"They're going to be worse, because this has been one of the worst winters ever," Hines said. He said road crews start by filling holes on township roads. Alleys aren't fixed until all of the roads have been taken care of.

He said workers already filled several holes on Federal Street in the Natrona section of the township, and on Carlisle Street near Allegheny Valley Hospital.

The story is much the same in New Kensington.

Bob Domian, superintendent of streets and parks, said Freeport Road and Industrial Boulevard are spots where a number of notable potholes have been spotted, but they've started to appear all over the city.

"We've already been out for three or four weeks," Domian said. "There's a lot more then normal.

Ken Boroski, Freeport's superintendent of public works, said workers are still concentrating on removing snow and ice, and officials haven't had a chance to get the snow removal equipment off of the trucks. He said he hopes to do it sometime this week.

"We'd like to see the weather change," he said.

Struzzi and PennDOT District 12 spokeswoman Valerie Peterson noted PennDOT's pothole hot line for motorists to report potholes on state roads.

Both said they've seen a slight increase in calls, but it hasn't been overwhelming.

"We would like to get more calls," Struzzi said.

Pothole hot line


To report a pothole on a state road, call PennDOT at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.

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