Potholes / by kevin murray

Potholes are a significant hazard, which can damage your wheels, your vehicle, and even cause an accident or worse, depending upon the size of the pothole, its visibility, the angle of the impact, and your reaction or recovery time from hitting the pothole.  A pothole is a prime example of how a stitch in time, saves nine, but unfortunately in America, the policy on road maintenance seems to be always one of playing catch-up as opposed to being pro-active in maintaining our roads which would be far more cost efficient and far safer.


Our interstate system of highways was led by and passed into law by President Eisenhower in 1956 in which as the former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in WWII, he recognized the importance of an interstate highway that would help greatly in providing a ready means for trade and ease of transportation for interstate needs.  This vision was prescient but in order for us to update it for the 21st century we need to utilize our technology and knowhow in new and inventive ways.


A crack in the asphalt is usually the first step that is necessary for a pothole to form.  If that crack is discovered and properly repaired quickly, the pothole will not form, however, if the crack in the road is ignored, moisture will seep into the crack which will over time begin the process of breaking away the asphalt from the crack and thereby creating the pothole.  The process of creating a pothole is not something that takes a long time, and the more it is ignored or the more it is neglected, the quicker the pothole will be formed.


Most cities, counties, and states claim that they do not have enough funds to fix all of their potholes and that therefore they are constantly doing the best that they can, recognizing that it is impossible to fix up all of the road damage, so that they do what they can do.  But this policy which has been in place for decades is clearly not working and there isn't any real reason why it will ever work.  A far better step in the right direction is to determine what steps are needed to properly identify and to thereby properly fix roads so that potholes are either not formed as frequently in the first place or when formed are fixed in such a manner that the repair has a longer and more lasting application.


For instance there are different grades of asphalt, different applications for applying asphalt, different mixtures of asphalt, in which some types, mixtures, and grades of asphalts work better under certain weather conditions and others are cheaper, easier to apply, or more readily available.  It's important to know how effective, how long lasting the asphalt that is laid performs.  When it comes to road repair, specific GPS data detailing and date-stamping the work performed should be recorded and then analyzed with data processing tools.  Additionally, there is a high correlation between the weight of vehicles and road wear and tear, which is especially noteworthy for semi-trucks and the tremendous weight that they carry, the taxes that these semi-trucks pay for road travel probably does not properly reflect the expenses that they create and therefore should be raised.