Service Departments Face Potholes, Other Issues as Ground Thaws

It happens each year...

"You have very cold weather, followed by very hot weather. That really starts to destroy the road surface," said Chad Gamble, Director of Public Services for Lansing.

As the ground thaws, asphalt loosens and potholes become an issue for drivers and the cities in charge of fixing them. Gamble says this year is a little different.

"Traditionally, we don't get mid-50 degree weather until April or May," said Gamble. "We're not used to seeing this, obviously, on January 30th."

The result? Potholes springing up earlier than expected. East Lansing is also seeing more potholes than usual for this time of year and has already started fixing them.

"People see a truck out with what's called a 'cold patch'," said Todd Sneathen, the East Lansing Director of Public Works. "It's a type of asphalt material that's temporary till the spring."

That's when Sneathen says his department moves in to fix the problem permanently. Until then, service departments have something else to worry about...water main breaks.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light says they haven't seen anymore breaks than usual, this year, but the freezing and thawing of ice is definitely a factor in causing them. Gamble agrees.

"The soil and ground begin to move a little bit and that will show where the weak points are in the water mains," said Gamble.

That causes breaks, including those in East Lansing and Lansing, Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. However, East Lansing saw 60 breaks, last year, and Sneathen says it needs to be more consistently cold before the city sees similar numbers, this year.

"When it gets bitter cold, it drives the frost deeper and deeper down and that's when we start to see the breaks," said Sneathen.

Lansing, East Lansing and the Jackson County Road Commission have already sent out crews to cover up area potholes.

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