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‘Pothole Blitz’ Seeks to Repair Roads

March 4, 2010

By Samantha Downing
Capital News Service

RICHMOND — A gap in the state budget isn’t the only hole Virginia officials are trying to fill. They’re also trying to plug potholes that harsh winter weather has left on roads throughout the commonwealth.

Gov. Bob McDonnell is asking Virginians to help the Virginia Department of Transportation in a “Pothole Blitz” aimed at repairing the damage.

“Motorists traveling across Virginia know best where the worst potholes lie,” McDonnell said. “We want citizens to help us identify potholes as they form so that VDOT crews can quickly be dispatched to make repairs.”

McDonnell directed VDOT to focus on the Pothole Blitz during March.

Crews already have begun work to repair potholes but have faced setbacks because of repeated snowstorms. Continuous freezing and thawing have greatly weakened roadway pavement – and potholes have been forming faster than crews can repair them.

“Potholes are a roadway hazard and a nuisance for every person driving our highways,” McDonnell said. “We are going all-out to repair these pavements and make traveling safer and more comfortable for Virginians.”

As part of its battle plan, VDOT is prioritizing pothole patching depending on where the potholes are located and how severe they are. Crews are assigned routes and work their way along, filling potholes as they go. On average, crews have been able to repair potholes on high-traffic roads within four days, state officials said.

VDOT employees remain on guard against potholes but need other people to keep a lookout, too.

“All Virginians can be a part of this Pothole Blitz so we can work together to improve everyone’s safety and comfort as they travel through our great commonwealth,” McDonnell said.

To report a pothole, call 800-367-7689 or visit

[This story was publishing in the Gainesville Times and other newspapers.]

Q. Who’s responsible for fixing potholes?

A. The Virginia Department of Transportation is responsible for patching potholes on the 58,000 miles of state-maintained roadways in the commonwealth. If the pothole is on a city street, call the local department of public works or city hall. If the pothole is on an Arlington or Henrico county road, call the public works department in that county. (Those are the only two Virginia counties responsible for maintaining their county roads.)

Q. What makes a pothole?

A. Potholes are created when moisture seeps into the pavement, freezes, expands and then thaws. This weakens the pavement. Traffic loosens it even more, and it eventually crumbles and pops out.

Q. Why do so many potholes occur in the spring?

A. Spring temperatures warm the cold pavement, melting and evaporating any ice. This creates air pockets that can eventually cause the pavement to break up. A winter of heavy snow or rain and several freeze-thaw cycles can mean a big pothole season ahead.

Q. How are potholes repaired?

A. The pothole is carved out with a jackhammer or masonry saw to create a neat rectangle. When the excess asphalt is removed, an adhesive is applied and asphalt is added in layers. It is leveled off and compacted with a pavement roller. In some counties, VDOT uses “pothole killers,” machines that fix potholes quickly without closing the road.

Source: VDOT