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How Potholes Develop and How to Stop Them

When pavement becomes distressed from accumulated use, over a period of time it is no longer able to maintain its physical integrity. This usually happens in areas where there is a lot of traffic. When it occurs, the result is a pothole. In fact, you will likely find a series of potholes in the area where significant pressure has been placed on asphalt. Given that the problem is often caused by normal wear and tear, it’s necessary to ensure regular maintenance on roads to mitigate the damage and prevent the development of dangerous roadways.

It’s generally understood by agencies that oversee roadwork that maintaining roads is a lot easier than repairing damage. There are some instances when damage to a road occurred because of improper drainage. In this type of situation, steps to implement proper drainage can prevent potholes from forming, which is cheaper than not addressing the problem and having to overcome the challenges that are presented later. The same applies to fixing cracks in a road before they become potholes.

Filling Potholes

The process used to fill potholes is called patching. When the pothole is severe, a process called deep patch is performed because it’s most likely to provide a permanent solution. Mixtures developed to fill potholes often include stockpile patching, asphalt emulsion and selected binders. Deep patching can only be performed on pavements that are asphalt.

There’s also a procedure called full-depth patching, which means the entire surface of the pavement is removed. This is a procedure that can be performed on concrete and asphalt. When full-depth patching is performed, it goes as deep as necessary to achieve the desired results. In some instances, drainage is a required step. The process for a full-depth patch is lengthy because it’s backfilled and involves hot mix asphalt that dense. Periodically, a cold mix asphalt is used.

Sometimes only surface patching is necessary, which is when the material that has deteriorated is removed and hot mixes are applied for the purpose of minimizing the possibility of future raveling. If the pothole is small, there’s a chance that spray-injection patching will be used, which is not a permanent fix. However, it’s often preferred when there is inclement whether and the need for a solution is pressing.

When there are emergency situations involving potholes, the methods typically used are spray injection, semi-permanent, throw and roll, and throw and go. All of these solutions require contractors to first remove any debris and water before the pothole can be filled. The bottom line is that a proactive approach should be taken when it comes to repairing potholes because waiting until the problem is exacerbated is costly.

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