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Winter recedes and leaves us with potholes

As winter finally ends, albeit slowly and grudgingly, Connecticut welcomes the arrival of the next season. No, not spring, but pothole season. And according to the experts at filling potholes, the Department of Transportation, which projects this could be the worst season ever.

The long, cold winter means frost penetration was substantial and the heavy use of salt helps to liquefy water and send it deep into cracks in roads and highways, where it can then refreeze and break up the road surface. The constant motion of cars over the weakened asphalt or concrete forms the pothole and becomes the bane of drivers.

For the DOT, towns and cities that have to maintain the roads, the tracking and repair of potholes is time consuming and labor intensive. With more than 10,000 miles of road in Connecticut, there are a lot of potholes.

Technology is helping, and the DOT is using a new automated machine that can fill and tamp a repair at a rate about three-times that of a typical crew.

They use this on interstates and other limited-access roads, but even that process is labor intensive, as multiple trucks are necessary to block the lane being repaired and prevent vehicles from crashing into the repair crew. In addition, any work that causes slowdowns has potential to create other car accidents when drivers fail to notice slowing traffic.

Potholes can cause other accidents by damaging tires and steering equipment on a car, leading to a loss of control by the driver. There is also the risk of drivers swerving erratically into other lanes in an attempt to avoid potholes, which can lead to collisions.

Most cities have a reporting procedure for potholes and during this time of year, all drivers should exercise additional caution. Striking a pothole or evasive maneuvers at high speeds can cause you to lose control, leading to far worse crashes.

CTpost.com, "Worst season ever for potholes," Frank Juliano, March 16, 2015

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