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Proliferation of potholes arrives early in Elkhart County

Potholes have started popping up around Elkhart County.

Posted on Dec. 23, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — Pothole season came early this season and local street crews have already been working to eliminate the problem for motorists, officials said Monday, Dec. 23.

Potholes form after water seeps into cracks in a roadway and freezes. When the water melts, as it did late last week, it can cause the road material to break down.

Last week’s heavy snow, followed by warm temperatures provided the perfect scenario for the proliferation of potholes, officials said.

Marty Morgan, street department superintendent for the city of Elkhart, said the department picked up 30 tons of patching product from a provider in Leesburg early last week after he saw forecasts predicting a new round of melting and freezing.

He said his crews began working Friday and Saturday.

As of late Monday, he said city crews had pretty much caught up in efforts to repair the onslaught of new road damage, but would continue Tuesday.

Potholes popping up in December, Morgan said, is a little unusual. The annual problem usually arrives in January, he said.

Monday’s freezing temperatures provided good conditions to patch the holds, Morgan said.

FIXING U.S. 33, MAIN STREET

Indiana Department of Transportation crews were out Saturday around Goshen trying to fix potholes on U.S. 33 and Main Street, also known as S.R. 15, according to INDOT spokeswoman Mary Foster. INDOT is generally responsible for maintenance on state roadways, even inside cities.

Due to rain, it became clear the fixes would not hold, and construction barriers were placed at a particularly problematic spot on U.S. 33 to keep traffic away. Crews returned Monday, Dec. 23, to try again at locations on both U.S. 33 and S.R. 15, carrying out multi-step repair jobs.

“In the spring, a more permanent fix will be made at these locations using hot-mix asphalt,” Foster said in an e-mail.

INDOT crews are ready to patch potholes year-round, as they occur. Foster noted that it’s a tougher job in the cold, though, and that permanent repair jobs typically take place later on, when it’s warm, as will be done with the Goshen fixes.

Officials keep an eye on those problem spots that have already emerged, even if they get patches. “Even after being filled with cold patch, the same pothole requires ongoing maintenance and can reopen several times throughout the winter,” Foster said.

REPORT A POTHOLE

According to Larry Brown, Goshen’s assistant street superintendent, winter around this area just means potholes are inevitable. On Monday, the city’s street department had two crews out patching holes, which he said were scattered all over the city and county.

Rick Hall, a light equipment operator for the department, said potholes are expected, while Brown noted that the department usually does several sweeps through the winter season, as freezing and thawing can occur multiple times, creating new potholes. The Goshen officials don’t anticipate budget issues given the early appearance of chuckholes.

The biggest problem spots for Goshen seem to be on state and federal highways, Hall said. That’s typically INDOT’s domain, though Hall said Goshen road crews will do temporary fixes at times to particularly problematic spots.

There will be plenty of holes to patch over the coming months, but Brown said the department can’t see them all. To report a pothole in Goshen, call 534-9711.

Morgan said they also appreciate the public’s insight into the location of severe potholes. Residents in Elkhart can contact the street department at 293-5518.

At the state level, call INDOT’s toll-free line, 866-227-3555, to report potholes. Motorists can also send an email to neinformation@indot.in.gov or use the online “Report a Concern” web page at www.in.gov/indot/2330.htm.

On roads handled by the county, crews patch roads weekly, but rain and shifting temperatures have exacerbated the problem, according to county highway manager Jeff Taylor.

Taylor said people can call the highway department at 533-0538 to report potholes on county roads. How long it takes for potholes to be fixed varies, but he said crews can generally patch cavities in roads within 24 hours.





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