The massive temperature swings this winter are playing havoc on roads throughout the region.
Local city and county road supervisors said they’re seeing larger potholes and a greater need to repair them because of the changing temperatures.
In January, temperatures ranged from a low of minus-13 degrees to a high of 59 degrees in the area, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington. For 12 days, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 6, the temperature failed to reach 20 degrees, the longest streak in history.
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But later in January, temperatures soared into the high 50s, according to the NWS.
Road crews have remained busy this winter trying to repair the damage done by the unsettling weather, directors said.
Chris Petrocy, spokesman for the Butler County Engineer’s Office, said crew are filling potholes and he expects the workload to increase later this month and into March.
“Not extreme at this point,” he said.
When asked how a pothole is formed, Petrocy compared it to putting a beverage in the freezer. Eventually, he said, the container won’t be strong enough to hold the liquid. The same is true with pavement, he said.
Scott Tadych, director of public works in Middletown, said a 10-person street crew constantly is patching potholes throughout the city. He said when the cold water freezes, the pavement expands, then contacts back when the temperatures rise.
“It’s had a big affect on the pavement,” Tadych said of the weather.
He said the city also is seeing more water line breaks than normal. He said most water lines are at least four feet under ground, but some lines broke during the lengthy cold spell.
Tadych said after two mild winters, the area is seeing “more typical” winter weather.
In Monroe, Dan Arthur, director of public works, said a stretch of Butler-Road is closed for two weeks to work on potholes caused by big jumps in temperatures. The road was so torn up, he said, the only way to “attack it” was to close the road from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday for the next two weeks, weather permitting. He has assigned two road crews to the area, one is demolishing the road, the other is repaving.
Neil Tunison, Warren County engineer, said the weather changes are creating “a tough winter” for area road departments. He said the pavement gets “heaved,” or lifted up, due to the wet conditions. The county’s oldest pavement is requiring the most work, he said.