If you’ve driven around the city you’ve probably asked yourself “What’s up with all the potholes?” (We’re looking at you Gravelly Lake and Lakewood drives).
The answer: The weather.
Continuous rain and freezing temperatures are a paved road’s worst enemy. That’s why after the February snow days we saw more roads (ahem, Lakewood Drive) with holes popping up seemingly out of nowhere.
So how does a pothole form?
According to our trusty friend “Google”, a pothole appears when water seeps through holes or cracks in the pavement to the subsoil. The regular flow of cars and heavy loads over the compromised section of roadway results in the asphalt giving out and a hole materializing. (Don’t worry we also conferred with city engineers, they gave a similar explanation.)
The more water you have, the higher the chance for potholes – hence why we see more potholes during wetter months.
The city places a high priority on its roads and preventing potholes from forming. It does this through its crack and chip sealing programs. That’s where city road crews identify compromised roads – or roads with cracked pavement – and place a patch or seal over the impaired area to eliminate the possibility for water to seep in and cause disruption.
We can’t fix every road at once, and an onslaught of bad weather (think snow followed by record rainfall) speeds up deterioration and prevents us from patching the roads immediately. Heavy rainfall and cooler temperatures also limit the type
of patches applied. That means right now while we're still working our way toward warmer spring weather temporary patches are being used until road crews can come back and overlay permanent fixes.
We do our best to get ahead of the problem or respond promptly when it’s brought to our attention.
So what about Gravelly Lake and Lakewood drives, why haven't they been fixed yet?
We’re glad you asked.
First a little history lesson from city engineer Weston Ott:
“What we are seeing on Gravelly Lake Drive and Lakewood Drive is the result of pre-incorporation, where Pierce County put a paving fabric and a thin overlay on these roads then chip sealed probably every five to eight years. Water has gotten into these layers, and with no place to go in areas of cracked pavement, it blows out when vehicles pass. This is why you have these shallow but long potholes that are actually more difficult to fill and seal than a traditional pothole.”
Both thoroughfares are slated for a major overhaul – reconstruction and overlay work – this year. Temporary asphalt filling may be done to reduce to most egregious of holes, but smaller ones may be left unattended.
And don’t forget – report potholes with the FREE MyLakewood311 mobile app, available for download in the Google Play and Apple iStore.