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An Indiana Department of Transportation crew fills potholes with patching material in the 1200 block of South Main Street in Goshen on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. The size of the driving obstacles is an expanding problem for area drivers. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen) (AP)
The potholes are multiplying and Elkhart County road crews are trying to keep up with them

Posted on Jan. 14, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 14, 2014 at 1:04 p.m.

The never-ending battle to fix potholes, especially prevalent this time of year, continues.

The recent thaw after the sub-freezing temperatures last week led to the appearance of a new set of craters in Elkhart County roadways and Indiana Department of Transportation and Elkhart County Highway Department crews are keeping busy dealing with them.

“Potholes are a never-ending battle when you have the fall and rise in temperatures like we have had from last week to this week — and like we had back in mid-December, just before the Christmas holiday,” INDOT spokeswoman Mary Foster said in an email Monday, Jan. 13.

Local crews drive the roads looking for potholes to be fixed — a key focus of INDOT in the winter aside from snow plowing — and INDOT also responds to reports from the public. INDOT is responsible for maintaining S.R. 19, U.S. 33, S.R. 15, S.R. 13 and U.S. 6, among other roadways in Elkhart County, but Foster didn't report any particularly problematic spots here.

Jeff Taylor, Elkhart County's transportation manager, said county crews patch potholes as soon as they can after receiving reports of them. It's tough this time of year, though, due to cold and moisture.

“I have personally patched holes that reopen the next day due to water, cold weather and other factors that prohibit the material from bonding,” Taylor said in an email Monday. He alluded to budget cuts that have limited funding for resurfacing of county roadways, saying until a regular source of money becomes available “older roads will become potholed.”

Foster said in recent years INDOT has expanded preventive efforts meant to keep potholes from forming in the first place. Chief among the efforts is increased sealing of road cracks to prevent the entry of moisture in the first place, the root cause of potholes.

“In fact, research estimates that for every $1 spent on pavement preservation, it saves taxpayers $6 to $14 in future maintenance and construction costs,” Foster said. “Pavement preservation also uses fewer natural resources than reconstruction and significantly reduces motorist inconvenience.”

Reporters Tim Vandenack and Angelle Barbazon contributed to this story.

We're tracking how long it takes to fix a pothole in Elkhart County among state, county and city agencies, and we need your help. Answer the questions below and we'll plot the pothole on a map, report it to the correct agency and track how long it takes to fix.

Blue points mean a pothole has been fixed. Red points mean it hasn't yet been fixed or crews haven't yet been able to notify department customer service that it's been fixed. Green lines indicate roads in Elkhart County that INDOT maintains.