As winters go, this one has brought more than the average share of driving headaches. Within the last month, the residents of Chester County have faced high winds, heavy rains, rapidly accumulating snows at rush hour, ice slicks, black ice and frigid temperatures.
But wait. There’s more.
All these variations in precipitation and temperatures were the antecedents of yet another hazard: pot holes.
For those who drive in the southern sections of the county, many of the roads are already spotted with those pesky indentations, and municipal road crews are heading out each day to fill them in.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Gene Blaum said the prevalence of potholes is epidemic in the greater Philadelphia area. “It’s extensive; it’s everywhere. With the precipitation and cold cycles on old pavements, it’s in all of our counties,” he said.
Blaum added that as soon as the agency got cleaned up from the last round of snow, there was freezing rain, then the temperature went up to 69 degrees and then it was down to 2 or 3 degrees in 24 hours. In roads that had slight cracks, the water trickled in, then froze, expanding and heaving the ground underneath. Then, with the constant pounding of vehicles on top, as that ground thawed, the bottom under the asphalt sank.
“It’s water-freeze-thaw,” he said.
On Monday, he said crews were out patching holes, but it was a tough job because what they put in now -- cold patches -- are just temporary to last out the winter, and they have the other winter situations to deal with as well.
Blaum said the pothole season is early this year. Usually the weather variations don’t arrive with such severity until the end of February or the beginning of March.
Currently, it may not be as bad as it could be or will be in the future.
In London Grove Township, Roadmaster Shane Kinsey said he hadn’t heard of any severe situations, but that his team was indeed out filling the holes.
In Franklin Township, Supercvisors Chairman John Auerbach said he had not been told of any severe pothole areas. In fact, he said, he was more worried about the fact that someone had dumped a deer carcass on Peacedale Road.
A spokesperson for the PennDOT agency that fixes the potholes locally said that the crews are out everyday filling them in. “It freezes; it thaws. Our people are out there. As soon as we find out about them, we go out and fix them. .... ‘Tis the season,” she said.
To report potholes, call 1-800-fixroad (1-800-349-7623).