Springtime weather brings pothole season to the state

Springtime weather brings pothole season to the state
Updated: Apr. 4, 2022 at 7:30 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Each spring in Alaska, potholes are scattered around streets and roadways.

“Every spring, It’s pothole season,” said Jill Reese, the Spokesperson for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

According to Reese, potholes can occur any time of the year. However, springtime is a popular season for them due to the freezing and thawing temperatures that Alaska experiences.

“Potholes are formed by water entering cracks in pavements and then as we have these freeze and thaw cycles, the freezing of course, expands the water and then causes the hole under the pavement to get larger,” Reese said.

It is part of the Alaska charm, Reese said, and is something that should be expected each year.

“No matter how much we try to keep the asphalt with no cracks with our earthquakes and the freeze and thaw cycles it’s really just an impossible job,” Reese said.

The department recommends that anybody who sees potholes on any type of roadway should report it. This can ensure that the pothole does not continue growing and eliminate potential damage that could be done to vehicles on the road. According to the department, any damages that vehicles receive related to a pothole is the driver’s responsibility. They said that drivers should reach out to their insurance companies if they suffer pothole-related damage.

“Driving on the road is considered a public decision and the department does the best that they can to create total safe conditions,” Reese said. “That’s just not possible in reality, so we always advise to avoid potholes if you can. You never know quite how deep they are.”

Potholes found on city streets such as neighborhoods, are the city’s responsibility to take care of, according to the department. Residents should reach out to their city to report any holes in those areas. Meanwhile, potholes found on main highways and state roads can be reported to the DOT through the email dot.potholes@alaska.gov.

“Then we put them on a maintenance list and as soon as our guys can get out to deal with them they do,” Reese said.

However, that is only a bandage over the pothole problem until the asphalt plants can open up this summer. Each winter, due to the cold temperatures, the plants close for the season. This year they are set to open on May 1st.

“That’s where they actually make the hot asphalt and that’s what actually then does the job of sealing up the pothole permanently or at least much better than the winter type just cold patch,” Reese said.

Although Reese said that keeping asphalts crack-free is near impossible, this provides the most effective route of treatment.

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