Bay Area roads plagued with pothole problem and they need to be fixed!

California roads plagued with pothole problem

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) Reports  - Potholes  flatten our tires, wreck alignments and allow rocks to fly into  windshields. This is creating huge piles of bills Mother Nature is  presenting to taxpayers chunk by crumbling chunk.

We've often  talked about the danger of putting off road maintenance, Well, here  comes the bill. There's a gaping pothole on Oakland's eastbound Highway  24, longer than the cars that cross it. It's one of a countless  procession of potholes pock marking thousands of California roads .

Roads  are complicated layers of various materials that flex just enough to  bend, but not break as vehicles, especially trucks, roll over them.  "When you have such heavy rain for such a sustained period of time,  that's a lot of water being squeezed into the asphalt and you're gonna  have a lot of potholes," said Bob Haus, spokesperson for Caltrans. 

Road  engineer James Signore works for the East Bay road design and  maintenance firm NCE, a firm that has many public agencies and private  road owners as clients. Signore says continuing rains keep attacking and  deteriorating the already weakened road structures.

"We're seeing  more and more damage. Our clients are telling us, there seeing  premature failures of our roads which means your rehabilitation, you  maintenance costs are going skyrocketing," says Signore. Nonetheless,  statewide, we defer needed maintenance at the rate on almost $6 billion a  year.

Temporary patch repairs made on cold, rainy days will not last more than a few weeks.

"You  can't make permanent repairs unless it is warm and dry. The temperature  of the road has to be 50 degrees and above for the hot mix asphalt to  adhere to the road," said Caltrans' Haus. Even with many hired  contractors, Caltrans, counties and towns are overwhelmed.

"With  the rains that we've had and all the extra work for our crews, our crews  have been working 24/7 on emergency pothole repair, they've been  working on mudslides, slip outs, trees down, assisting PG&E with  power lines down," said Haus.

When the weather turns warm and dry,  expect lots of lane closures, limited to what already stretched road  budgets can afford. How serious a problem is this? Well, consider just a  40 foot stretch of half a city street. To permanently fix it, minimum  cost, about $2000 times God knows how many more miles we're talking  about.

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Without  proper maintenance, roads will not live out their decades long life  spans. Most interstate highways are well past their 50-year design  lives. Local roads are designed for half that.  So, other than serious  emergencies, already badly worn roads will get little attention, as  crews work to keep better ones from going bad.

"The cost in fixing  a road that's almost at the end of its life, is not going to change  much from one year to the next. Whereas, where you let a good condition  road or a moderate condition road start to fail, your costs are going to  escalate rapidly," said engineer Signore.

How else do you pay?  Consider the tomato. A scientific study showed conclusively, tomatoes  are more expensive than need be because so many are damaged while being  hauled on our bumpy, potholed roads.

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