CHARLOTTE, NC — Is there a bone-jarring pothole on your route to work or school that road crews should know about? AAA Mid-Atlantic officials say they typically see an increase in tire-related service calls as the temperatures warm and remind drivers to always have a spare tire in their vehicle. The combination of snow, ice, rain and cold has created a new crop of potholes on streets and highways.
On the road, remain aware of possible potholes, slow down and increase following distance to safely steer around hazards, says AAA. If you drive over a pothole, check your tires for blisters or other damage. If you have aluminum or custom wheels, check them for cracks.
And your mechanic should check your steering, suspension, tires and alignment to prevent uneven tire wear or other problems.
Have you seen any potholes in Mecklenburg County? Tell us where in the comments!
To report a pothole in Charlotte, fill out the form on the city’s website at Report a Problem. You can also call the Charlotte Transportation Department’s Street Maintenance Division during normal business hours at 704-336-4119
To report potholes on a Mecklenburg County road, call the pothole hotline at 919-715-7000 or contact the North Carolina Department of Transportation directly through an online form.
To minimize vehicle damage from potholes, AAA offers these tips:
Inspect Tires – Make sure tires are properly inflated and have a healthy tread. Look ahead – Make a point of scanning the road ahead for potholes. An alert driver is more likely to have time to avoid a pothole so limit distractions. Slow Down – If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce speed safely without abrupt braking. Beware of Puddles – Puddles often disguise deep potholes. Recognize Noises/Vibrations – A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage the tire or wheel and even break suspension components. Any unusual noises after a pothole hit should be inspected immediately. Where’s the Spare – New car owners beware, a quick fix for a blown out tire may be no more, as many newer cars do not have spare tires. Big Hole, Big Hit – Hitting a large pothole usually results in, not only replacing a tire, but also the need for wheel alignment and possible steering linkage damage, causing a bit hit to drivers’ wallets.
What Causes a Pothole?
Street pavement cracks and breaks because of water and traffic. Water can get under the pavement through cracks or from the side of the road. Over time, the water can cause the material under the pavement to erode, causing the pavement to sink down and break.
During the winter, the water under the pavement can freeze and expand, and then thaws and contracts. This freeze/thaw cycle can cause the pavement to crack so that it deteriorates quickly under the weight of traffic, and then streets can seem to break out in potholes overnight.
Traffic that is too heavy for the pavement’s design can result in cracks. Large volumes of traffic or heavy trucks and buses using a street not designed for this load can cause the pavement to crack and break apart.
How Are Potholes Repaired?
During cold weather, permanent patching cannot occur. Temporary patching is done using cold mix asphalt in the most harsh of winter months and then can be scheduled for permanent patching later in the year, the county says.
Permanent patching is used where a long lasting repair is required. Often times, the road surface must be cut away, the road base replaced, and new hot mix asphalt installed. The preferred months to perform permanent patching activities are from April to November.
Patch Editor Deb Belt contributed
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