February 13, 2018

The Cause of Potholes

Potholes seem to be everywhere in the Memphis area. Dodging potholes may well become a winter Olympic sport (as if driving 240 is not challenging enough already).

This year we have had a “perfect storm” of sorts for creating terrible, potentially-damaging potholes.  Thinking through how they actually form will help explain why they are so much worse this year:

  1. Water enters cracks in the asphalt, on the street or a parking lot.
  2. Water washes out the gravel base of the road, causing it to begin to sink.
  3. The asphalt cracks and sinks more, into a deepening depression.
  4. This begins to hold more rain water, and is a small puddle, at first.
  5. But, when the ground gets cold enough, water freezes and expands. This widens the cracks and deepens the holes.
  6. When that ice melts, the trapped water freezes and thaws over and over, and the pavement will weaken and continue cracking, making so-called “alligator back” patterns and much deeper potholes.
  7. As the weight of cars and trucks pass over the weak spot in the road or the lot, pieces of the roadway are broken down from the weight, creating a bigger pothole.
  8. When salt is used to melt ice, it lowers the temperature that water will freeze. This creates an artificial freeze-thaw cycle that permits more occurrences of the damaging cycle to occur. This happens more often in the spring because of the melting that takes place and because the temperatures fluctuating above and below the freezing point very frequently.

So that is why 2018 is banner year for potholes, front end alignments and new tires. Drive safely y’all.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in motorcycle, truck and car accidents, disability and medical malpractice. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.

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