ELYRIA — The scourge of many a tire and wheel rim, potholes are cropping up all over Lorain County’s roads due to recent weather.
The heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures, rain and then last weekend’s thaw created perfect conditions for potholes to form or to open back up after temporary fixes this winter.
In North Ridgeville, it’s a constant battle.
“There’s too many potholes to get them all at once,” Safety Service Director Jeff Armbruster said Tuesday. “It’s impossible.”
The 75-degree swing in temperatures — from the negative teens to 60-plus degrees Monday — created the perfect conditions, he said.
“You are going to have more than your share of potholes when it warms up, especially when it’s raining,” Armbruster said. “Having damp ground and roads and then freezing them, then thawing them in a matter of days ... it’s very difficult for those kinds of conditions to keep the pavement from having some potholes.”
Crews also can’t patch potholes when it rains, he added.
Lorain Safety Service Director Dan Given called the pothole season “typical,” but said his city has rolled out some new technology to fight the menace.
“What we are experiencing here is what we always experience” with the freeze and thaw, he said. On his own street, just paved last summer, a “brand new monster pothole” has showed up, Given noted.
“It just kind of goes with the territory,” he said. “We live in Northern Ohio.”
Lorain has stopped using cold patch to fix its potholes, and not only makes its own hot patches but last year started using Aquaphalt, a product Given said he discovered at a seminar two years ago.
“This stuff, you can literally pour in holes with water, and the water actually hardens it,” he said. “Since we started using that, our use of cold patch has gone down to about nothing … it’s great because you can use it in all weather conditions, and the hole doesn’t need to be clean and dry.”
In the event the material fails, the manufacturer replaces it at no cost. It’s a little more expensive to put it, Given said, “but it’s a permanent fix.”
This year, hot patch made in Lorain has sufficed for its needs, he said, and Lorain is even looking into making more of its own and selling it to neighboring municipalities.
Elyria street crews also have been out this week attacking the potholes as they find them. Assistant Elyria Safety Service Director Kevin Brubaker said residents who spot potholes can call the Mayor’s Office at (440) 326-1400 or the Safety Service Director’s Office at (440) 326-1404.
“Anyone will take their information and get it to our Street Department management,” he said.
Brubaker said because Elyria was able to resurface many of its streets over the last two years with Issue 6 money, officials are seeing an improvement over past years.
“Obviously the older streets are a problem, the ones with cracks or holes that we’ve already filled,” he said. “We’re on par with the way it’s been for some streets, and other areas have improved because they’ve been completely resurfaced.”
Elyria’s work crews fill potholes year-round, Brubaker said, and it’s the freeze-then-thaw that can push the filler out and leave the hole open again.
With cold patch asphalt costing nearly $100 per ton, Armbruster said his city has taken steps to combat having to fill and refill potholes by investing in its own machinery to make asphalt.
Crews can make 4 tons per day, Armbruster said.
“All our mix is all hot asphalt,” which rolls into potholes easier, adheres better to existing asphalt and stays in place longer — though even that won’t stay forever depending on temperature changes, he said.
Included in Elyria’s upcoming budget is money for the Street Department to buy an asphalt recycler. Using grindings from its own residential streets when they are re-
surfaced, and mixing them with tar and a chemical catalyst, it quickly creates a quality hot patch that lasts longer, Brubaker said.
For now, with asphalt plants closed for the winter, street workers often have to resort to temporary fixes. Mix from the recycler will better fill the holes crews often have to fill multiple times each winter, Brubaker said.
“We’ll be purchasing one of those as soon as the budget is approved,” he said.
North Ridgeville has done up to $1.8 million in resurfacing on its roads over the past three years, not including money from the Ohio Public Works Commission, he said. That can help stem the formation of potholes for a time, but “unfortunately, it’s not enough.”
“Who’d have thought you’d go from minus 14 or 15 up to 60 in a week?” Armbruster said.