Post-Snowpocalyptic Potholes in Corvallis

potholeWhile driving through our beautiful city one fine afternoon this week, I thought about homework I had to do, what I would make for dinner, and what shows to watch on Netflix. Suddenly, out of nowhere, my poor sports car took a nosedive.

It was a large, deep, black pit of predatory asphalt, filled with runoff water and gravel that sloshed all over my chrome wheels. A pothole. If you have driven anywhere in Corvallis lately, you have probably experienced the same type of event with your own car, and it would seem like the treacherous pits are springing up more frequently than normal after our recent winter storm.

With this in mind, my reporter-self contacted the City to see what is going to be done about the potholes covering our roads. According to Mary Steckel, director of the Public Works Department, potholes take a while to form and develop.

“The cause of a pothole is moisture getting below the surface layer and weakening the substructure. As vehicles ride over the weakened area, the surface breaks up and a pothole forms. Certainly weather conditions contribute to this process and can accelerate it,” she says.

So something like the two recent comings of snowpocalypse in Corvallis definitely could have had something to do with the numerous holes in our streets. As far as a plan for combating the trenches:

“The City has a certain amount of money budgeted for street surface maintenance. Temporary patches to potholes are typically made. Eventually the street will require a more robust pavement preservation process, such as a pavement overlay or full street reconstruction,” says Steckel.

As for the amount of money it takes to fix one of the potholes, the City was a little hazier. After a bit of research, I found that temporarily fixing a pothole typically costs $3 to $9 per pothole in materials (plus whatever labor costs there are for the one doing the fixing). This involves filling depressions in the pavement with cold-lay asphalt, hot asphalt, or a mixture of aggregate and binder materials. We can only hope there’s enough in the budget that soon our roads will look less like a Mancala board and more like a navigable driving surface.

by Kyra Young

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