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Warm weather marks the start of pothole-patching season

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 4:58 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Potholes are starting to disappear around our region now that hot mix asphalt plants have opened for the warm weather months.

Every spring, potholes open up from the long hard winter, but there’s typically a delay before they can get filled because hot mix asphalt plants operate best during the warmer months.

Now that warmer weather is here, trucks are busy filling up with asphalt.

“There’s not a year that goes by where we open up the plants and you get that first smell of hot asphalt that it just kind of gets you going again,” said Gerard Otis, who has been with Pike Industries for 30 years.

Pike Industries’ asphalt plants have been open for several weeks now preparing for road repairs.

The process starts at the quarries and the material then makes its way to a plant like the ones at Pike to create the asphalt before heading out to a road or a pothole near you.

With typical hot mix asphalt running at 300-350 degrees to create the liquid form needed, warm weather allows for fixing the roads damaged by the difficult winters and springs when the largest holes show up, which is why there’s a gap between when roads are damaged and when they can be fixed.

“With the freeze-thaw, freezing at night and then thawing during the day is just a recipe for helping to produce the potholes,” Otis said.

However, high petroleum costs this year have led to a 30% increase in cost, according to Otis, with so much of the operation using petroleum, including trucking and even as an ingredient in the asphalt.

He says they do recycle road asphalt when it comes time for repaving which does help counter some of the cost bumps that trickle down to the consumer.

Otis himself is excited each year to get down to business and help Vermonters get where they’re going safely on smooth roads.

“There’s nothing I like to do better than ride on a freshly completed project or mat. It’s a job well done and it just gives you a real sense of pride in the job we are doing out there for people,” he said.

In Burlington, crews have been out for weeks now beginning the process of patching roads. This is expected to go on for months as they work throughout the city.

There will also be 6 miles of roadway repaved in the city this year, including three miles by the state of Vermont.

Burlington Public Works says if you have a pothole or road you are concerned about, you should report it to the city.

“Whatever is not on our paving list, our crews, our maintenance crews will be out using hot mix from the asphalt plants to create more durable repairs, and we’ll have some set-aside money to go back around the network for any roads that need more durable repair that couldn’t quite make the paving list this year,” said Rob Goulding of the Burlington Public Works.

There is cold patch asphalt available for emergency repairs in the winter, but that is not as long-lasting as the more reliable hot mix asphalt, which is why municipalities typically wait for the plants to open up in the late spring to improve their roads.

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