Road Association: The worst is yet to come with potholes

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, April 1, 2014

LANSING — Although motorists are already frustrated with pothole season, the County Road Association of Michigan warns the worst is probably yet to come.  Michigan residents have more to look forward to than just the opening of baseball season this week.


(Submitted graphic)

“As some areas in Michigan experience the first 50-degree days followed by rains later in the week, we will see even more craters emerge on our roadways,” County Road Association director Denise Donohue warned. “Seasonal weight restrictions are in effect from our southern border with Ohio and Indiana to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, indicating that frost is leaving the ground and further destabilizing our roadbeds.”

Experts have predicted over the past several months that this would be the worst pothole season in memory, and local garages and tire companies are reporting a boom in business.  But what makes it so bad this year?

According to Michigan’s county road agencies, the epic winter of 2013-2014 pushed frost at least twice as deep in the ground as normal —  Four to six feet in some areas. Add to that poor road conditions — 80 percent of Michigan’s local road system is in fair or poor condition — and Michigan has a perhaps unparalleled recipe for creating potholes.

“By the time you see a crack in the road, the structural integrity of the road is already vulnerable,” Donohue said. “Michigan’s state and local road agencies will patch the potholes, but roads in these conditions need more than just a patch.  They need a long-term funding solution and with each day that passes, the price tag inches up.”

The County Road Association of Michigan represents the state’s 83 county road agencies that collectively maintain 75 percent of Michigan’s road system, representing more than 90,000 miles of roads and 5,700 bridges — the fourth largest local road system in the nation.