AMES, Iowa — With winter ending, it’s almost construction season for the Iowa Department of Transportation. Every year, one major project is fixing damage from the past few months.
Iowa DOT Maintenance Director John Hart said this has been a bad season for potholes. While there’s not an exact number for how many potholes ripped open on state roads, including interstate highways, above-average precipitation has led to more damage.
“We can definitely see it though,” he said. “As you drive the road you’re seeing those weak spots appear at the joints and at other areas in the pavement. And it’s been something our crews have had to contend with and go out and fix quite a bit more than previous years.”
When it comes to fixing potholes, crews can only use a cold mix to fix them during winter months. That’s essentially a band-aid. The hole usually rips open again.
Real repairs can’t begin until spring and summer when hot mix asphalt and concrete are available to fix potholes permanently.
“Early in April is when we’ll start up, when the plants will start up based on weather,” Hart said. “And then we’ll continue working on this all through the summer and into the fall. We’ll be in a continual repair and patching in our normal construction season.”
Hart said when permanent repairs start, crews will close a lane of road at a time for a certain stretch to get the work done. It usually takes up to a week to complete a corridor of repairs.
He also said Iowa DOT does not track how much it spends specifically on pothole repairs. It’s part of the agency’s maintenance budget, which is usually about $18 million annually. This year, however, the Iowa DOT recently added an additional $15 million to that budget.