Temp swings bring out the potholes in Northwest Indiana
BY MICHAEL GONZALEZ Post-Tribune correspondent January 14, 2014 4:06PM
Motorists on the northbound and southbound lanes of Cline Avenue continued to dodge potholes on Monday, hours after the highly traveled highway was reopened by INDOT following a Sunday of repairs. | Michael Gonzalez/For the Post-Tribune
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Updated: February 16, 2014 6:18AM
GARY — An Indiana Department of Transportation official Tuesday said the state’s local “pothole patrol” will begin another blitz on two key roads in northern Lake County Wednesday, but complaints about the pockmarked state-maintained streets throughout the region stretched much farther south.
One state legislator contacted INDOT officials about what he described as potholes on Broadway “the size of craters.”
INDOT officials closed Cline Avenue, riddled with deep holes from I-80/94 north to Columbus Drive, from Saturday night to early Monday morning, and their crews will hit that road again Wednesday, said INDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley.
The cold patch crews used appeared to hold up better in some places than in others, as motorists continued to dodge patched and newly opened holes.
For Wednesday, the National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures in the high teens to lower 20s, with no precipitation expected.
Along with revisiting Cline Avenue, the crews will begin working on Broadway, which suffered extensive damage, especially between 45th and 50th avenues. Several blocks of the southbound lanes on that stretch are nearly split apart by deep holes.
Potholes are especially bad in winter as temperature swings allow moisture to seep into cracks in the pavement, where it freezes, expands and making the cracks even wider. Eventually, the cycle can undermine larger sections of the road, creating potholes.
“Wherever there’s potholes out there, we’re going to be working on it,” Deitchley said, pointing to last week’s heavy snows and 50 degree temperature swings as the main culprits for the recent damage.
“We’ve seen some pretty serious potholes, and that’s why our crews are working so hard.”
The rough weather, followed by the pothole plague, has kept INDOT crews working nearly around the clock, Deitchley said.
Patti Van Til, spokeswoman for the Lake County Sheriff, said Tuesday that from Saturday night through Monday night, the department received 29 calls for service on Cline Avenue due to road conditions, such as potholes.
The Broadway potholes prompted state Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, to write INDOT officials to ask them to get moving on repairing that street.
“They’re bordering on craters out there,” Smith said of Broadway. “(Motorists) are dodging them, and they’re afraid at night time they’ll hit one they can’t see.
“I’m not an administrator, so I can’t mandate (INDOT) to do anything, but I can bring it to their attention and keep up on it.”
Motorists continued to dodge open and newly patched potholes along Cline Avenue and other state maintained roads, as crews continued to fill in holes in roads throughout the region.
Lowell resident Nancy Cook said her new car suffered more than $400 in damage after hitting a pothole on northbound U.S. 41. The impact bent her custom-made wheel, damaged a tire and knocked out a sensor.
Fixing the wheel will cost $380, and a new sensor will cost about $40, she said, costs she plans to ask the state to reimburse when she files a claim.
“These potholes are all over on U.S. 41, and it’s terrible everywhere,” Cook said, “and I’ve not seen not one (INDOT) truck out there doing repairs.”
Miller area resident James Ford watched as INDOT crews worked on U.S. 20 in Gary.
“We have a very bad problem with potholes in my area, right off (U.S.) 12 and (U.S.) 20,” he said, adding his mother-in-law lost a muffler to a pothole in Gary. “And, heading over by the (Gary/Chicago International) Airport, I saw holes about a foot deep.”
Until warm weather arrives and asphalt producing companies reopen, crews must rely on cold patch, Deitchley said. That mixture stays more pliant to be used to patch holes in colder temperatures, but as a result it is less durable when temperatures rise again.