BLUEWELL — Cavities have opened up in Lorton Lick Road’s pothole patches, and the drivers who dodge those have a jarring experience anyway when they hit the unexpected potholes dotting the pavement; but spring’s arrival means that highway crews fixing those pits can be expected soon.
Lorton Lick Road, located between Bluewell and Montcalm, is among the region’s many roads that suffered under winter’s snow, ice and cold. Spring officially arrived Saturday, so asphalt plants making the remedy for potholes are getting back in operation. Mercer County has two asphalt plants, there is one in Raleigh County, and nearby Tazewell County, Va. has another, said Joe Pack, engineer and manager for District 10 of the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH). The Tazewell plant submits bids to the WVDOH, so its asphalt can be used when necessary.
“We began patching last week and we started in our district before the plants were even open,” Pack said. “And the way we did that was by using asphalt from a plant in St. Albans.”
WVDOH districts start pothole repairs with the highest-priority routes.
“Those are the interstates and the US routes, and then we step down to West Virginia route,” Pack said. “The priority is based on routes that have the most traffic. We try to serve the most people at one time. I can tell you that every road we’ve patched so far needed patching. Everything that we’ve done needed to be done. Now that the snow and ice is over – hopefully I won’t jinx us – we should be able o use all of our forces to do pothole patching. “
District 10, which includes Mercer, McDowell, Wyoming and Raleigh counties, has what is referred to as a core maintenance plan, Pack said. Every road in the district’s counties is scheduled for patching. While reporting potholes is not necessary, residents who want to point out road hazards can go to transportation. wv.gov on the internet to report them.
Patching a pothole is a process that must be done correctly if the patch is going to last. The WVDOH has abolished the practice of “throw and go” patching, Pack said.
“That’s simply driving up to a hole, throwing asphalt into a hole, and driving off. It just takes a little bit more time to do it right as most things in life are,” he stated.
Patching a pothole correctly means milling it out to remove loose material, then applying asphalt pack, which is a bonding agent, then pouring hot mixed asphalt, and then rolling over it and compacting it. “Clean it, put bonding agent down, pour hot mix down, roll it and that’s a proper patch,” Pack said.
A lot of the roadwork motorists see helps to keep potholes from forming, he added. This work includes keeping ditch lines clear and repairing slopes to help keep standing water off the pavement.
“Water is our enemy,” he said. “We do everything we can to prevent potholes.”
Work on potholes repairs could soon become a common sight. “We’re really looking to get ramped up in the next week or two. People will see five, six of our crews out. We hope to be a welcomed nuisance on the roads as people see us out there repairing the potholes,” he said.
Each crew has eight employees, so motorists are being asked to use caution when they drive near any roadwork.
“They have families they want to go home to at the end of the day, so we’re asking people to pay attention and stay off their phones when they’re in a work zone. (Employees) are focusing on their work and it’s difficult to do when traffic is running around,” Pack stated.
— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline. com