FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Fairfield County drivers beware: More potholes are popping up across the state this winter than in recent years thanks to the extreme shifts in temperature.
“A month ago, I would have said we were on average,” state Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said Thursday. “But now, we’re seeing more potholes than the average winter.”
That’s because this winter has been anything but average. Aside from the frequent snowstorms, the state was blasted by historic cold temperatures, falling to zero or below many times, followed by mild weather.
Although a number of factors cause a pothole to form, Nursick said temperature shifts — specifically freeze/thaw cycles — are the leading contributor. The more drastic the temperature swing, the more damage done to the asphalt, he said.
When you add vehicular traffic into the mix, Nursick said, it's a perfect recipe for potholes.
“Potholes can literally pop up overnight,” he said. “You can have nothing to severe pothole in a matter of hours. They can morph that quickly.”
Nursick said DOT crews began the process of filling potholes several weeks ago but have many more weeks of work ahead. On any given day, he said, about 1,000 workers are out patching holes across the state. Crews work five days a week and sometimes on weekends, he said.
Although there are multiple ways to repair a hole, crews are limited to the cold patch method during the winter due to the freezing temperatures. This method, Nursick said, is a temporary fix. As such, many of the holes filled during the winter need to be repatched in the spring using hot patch, he said.
“A cold patch doesn’t last as long as a hot patch, but we can’t wait until the spring to start fixing the potholes, so it’s our only option,” Nursick said.
State DOT crews aren’t the only ones working hard in pothole season. Towns and cities throughout Fairfield County are also trying to keep up with potholes.
In Fairfield, Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo said his crews aim to patch holes as soon they sprout. Up until this week, he said potholes hadn’t been an issue. But, with warm weather ahead, he expects more and more to appear throughout town.
“Because this winter was historically colder, I think pothole season will be worse than we’ve seen before,” he said. “We are going to busy over the next few weeks.”
Both Nursick and Michelangelo said they welcome the public’s help in identifying potholes. On a statewide level, Nursick said residents can report a pothole on the DOT website.