Early pothole season strains local road budgets

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) It may be the dead of winter but the pothole season across the region has already begun.

The splash of water, the dull thump of tires: they are the sights and sounds of pothole season.

"It's not as bad as I seen it in years before. I have lost a couple of hubcaps, flat tire in the past. This year, I haven't had that issue," said David Bingham of Brattleboro.

But other drivers are not so optimistic.

A busy section of Route 9 between Brattleboro and Bennington sees about 13,000 cars a day and upward of 500 trucks.

"A lot of people have been losing their hubcaps and all of that. You definitely have to swerve to get around them because you are going to pop a tire," said Emily Koziara of West Brattleboro.

And road crews say this winter's temperature swings drove the pothole season forward a bit.

"This year it has been usual because we had a lot of freeze-thaw events. So that water that gets into the road where it is broken down tends to freeze and it causes a lot of potholes," said Steve Barrett of Brattleboro Public Works.

Public works uses recycled pavement to make the repairs. It's heated in a hot mix box to fill the problem areas. The work takes place daily, which officials say is putting an added strain on communities that already struggle for resources.

"When people look at all these potholes and the different areas around the state, because this isn't just unique to Brattleboro, that is the true condition of the road. It comes out in the spring. And then we realize, jeez, we need to put more money and funding into capital road program," Barrett said.

In Brattleboro, that budget is roughly $330,000. An additional $30,000 is dedicated to maintenance. As the repairs continue, drivers beware.

"I know where all of them are, so I just swerve around them. But they are really bad. They have been filling them like every other day, but it is not enough," Koziara said.

Public works officials say they will continue with the temporary repairs into the spring when a more permanent fix can be made. And they say those road projects will likely continue through the summer construction season.