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Potholes make early appearance; Greenfield cautions drivers, asks for reports

Pot holes are popping up early with the flux in temperatures like this one near the intersectoin of Main and High Sts in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz

Pot holes are popping up early with the flux in temperatures like this one near the intersectoin of Main and High Sts in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

GREENFIELD — This winter’s hot and cold mood swings are pocking local roads earlier than typical.

The town is already finding potholes that could damage vehicles if drivers aren’t careful.

Public Works Director Arthur Baker said potholes are caused by extreme changes in temperatures and can appear suddenly.

He said they usually begin showing up a little later in the winter, as the town heads closer to spring, but this year they are showing up earlier, probably because of the extreme temperature changes we’ve experienced.

Baker said potholes happen when water gets into cracks in the road and then freezes

He said because Greenfield has 120 miles of roads, the Department of Public Works cannot patrol every one every hour of the day, so it depends on motorists to report potholes.

“Drivers are cautioned to drive slowly and not assume any road is free of potholes this time of year,” said Baker.

He said for a municipality to be found responsible for damages caused by “alleged” defects in the public way, the municipality must have received “sufficient prior notice of the defect.”

Baker said when DPW crews or a worker finds a pothole, or one is reported by the public, it is immediately entered into the department’s work order system.

“Most potholes are repaired within a reasonable amount of time and once we get there, it takes only minutes,” said Baker. “If immediate repair to a serious pothole cannot be made, it is barricaded in order to warn the public.”

Baker said repairs to vehicles due to pothole damage can be expensive, but because Greenfield Public Works Department responds quickly to pothole reports, the town has rarely had to pay for such damages.

He said it is difficult to say where a pothole will appear.

“They can appear at any time, anywhere,” he said.

Baker said public works tries to prevent potholes by filling small cracks in the road when it can.

He said Chapter 90 state aid pays for the repairs, which he estimates cost the town an average of about $3,000 a year for materials.

Baker said it only takes a few minutes to repair a pothole, so it doesn’t take his crews away from other important projects.

“The problem is, sometimes we have to do a temporary repair with a cold patch or recycled asphalt in the winter and then go out and do a permanent repair in the spring,” said Baker.

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