Warm up this week spells trouble for Mid-Michigan roads

Potholes will proliferate as the freeze-thaw cycle wreaks havoc on pavement
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 7:09 PM EST
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - After a cold stretch, Mid-Michigan is finally climbing above the freezing mark this week.

While it may feel nice outside, these temperature swings can be bad news for roads. The freeze thaw cycle will cause more potholes to pop up this week.

Potholes aren’t just a pain for drivers. Road crews continue to battle the persistent problem every spring season.

“The public will see us out at the same locations,” said Kimberly Zimmer of the Michigan Department of Transportation Bay Region.

She said temperature swings like this produce a freeze-thaw cycle that create potholes

“It will get warm and we’ll have this mix of snow and rain. It will get cold at night and freeze, which causes the bump in the road and then when it thaws again you still have that bump,” Zimmer said. “But when traffic hits that bump, it will create the pothole.”

For the pot holes that are already here, jumping into the high 30s this week and being near zero for a full week could make matters even worse.

“We’ll continue to temporarily patch them, but then as it freezes and expands and contracts it can pop the cold patch temporary patch, so crews will be back,” Zimmer said.

MDOT plans to repair potholes as they happen, permanent repairs must wait until after the winter because freeze-thaw cycles often happen into March and April.

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