South Jersey’s wild weather swings — snow and deep freezes followed by above-average temperatures — have led to larger potholes, strained asphalt supplies and shortened windows for county crews to do repairs.
Bill Reinert, Public Works director for Atlantic County, said the so-called pothole season, typically late February through April, is already here.
That’s led to major work for local road crews. Don Olbrich, who heads Cumberland County’s Public Works Department, said that in one day this week, the county repaired 39 potholes.
“It’s not significant in terms of the numbers, but they are larger this year,” he said. “The problem is with the temperatures and weather we are having, it won’t always hold for long.”
The county has about 550 miles of road to monitor and uses a spray-injection truck to fill the holes as they are reported, Olbrich said.
Cape May County Engineer Dale Foster said this year’s “bumper crop” of potholes is being repaired daily by the county’s Public Works crews, but the continuous onslaught of winter weather is hampering their efforts.
“Because of how cold it is, asphalt plants have shut down and it’s hard to get hot asphalt mix,” Foster said.
Both Atlantic and Cape May counties use asphalt patches to repair the roadway. The ideal repair involves hot asphalt, but cold patches are also used.
“The cold patches are not as durable,” Foster said. But, he added, the hot patches aren’t lasting as long either this year, which is straining the supply in the county.
“If the ground is frozen or there is a high water concentration then one or two nights later it will pop out,” Foster said.
In Atlantic County, road crews took advantage of the dry weather Thursday to repair potholes in the area.
The extra salt put down on the roads for the winter storms and the extra loads of crews out dealing with the bad weather have added stress to the roadways, said county spokeswoman Linda Gilmore.
The counties encourage residents to report potholes immediately, using the numbers available on the websites.
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