An outbreak of potholes has erupted throughout Northwest Indiana following the extreme weather conditions the week of Jan. 5, the Indiana Department of Transportation is reporting.
Historically low temperatures gave way to a more than 50-degree swing in less than 24 hours. The dramatic freeze/thaw resulted in one of the worst outbreaks of potholes many in Northwest Indiana had seen, INDOT officials said.
This week has seen more than a foot of snow in some areas combined with subzero temperatures and wind chills of minus 30.
Thursday's high temperatures look to bring about a more than 40-degree swing in 24 hours, so INDOT is warning drivers to watch out for another round of potholes on interstates, U.S. highways and state routes.
INDOT said crews in the Northwest Indiana District have been on alternating 12-hour shifts for much of the last four weeks to ensure roads are being maintained 24 hours a day.
When not working to remove snow and ice, crews are patching potholes. They are working day and night to fill potholes as quickly as possible, but with 5,000 lane miles to maintain in the Northwest Indiana District alone, INDOT warns it’s a big job and it will take time.
Potholes begin when water seeps into the cracks in a road and freezes, expanding the layers of pavement, stone and soil beneath the surface. As the ice melts and contracts, heavy highway traffic further loosens the pavement, forming potholes.
With temperatures too low for paving, most of Indiana’s hot mix asphalt plants are now closed.
During the winter INDOT uses cold mix — a mixture of small stone and liquid asphalt — as a temporary patch. Even after being filled with cold patch, the same pothole requires ongoing maintenance and can reopen several times throughout the winter.
When the asphalt plants reopen in the spring, INDOT maintenance crews clean out and then repair potholes with hot mix, providing a smoother, more permanent fix.
To report a pothole on a numbered state route, interstate or U.S. highway in Northwest Indiana call 1-855-GO-INDOT.