Cumberland Times-News

Local News

February 20, 2014

City crews tackle pothole problem

CUMBERLAND — Cumberland crews patched potholes on Greene Street and Virginia Avenue as well as Centre Street on Thursday, finally able to get to the Queen City’s thoroughfares that were so badly damaged by a significant series of winter storms.

“In previous winters we have been able to use cold patches on potholes, but this year the long stretch of snow and ice has made that impossible until now,” said Mayor Brian Grim on Thursday morning. Grim said crews may continue working through the weekend to repair the craters in the road surfaces.

“It’s a temporary fix because we have to use cold patches because of the low temperatures,” said Grim. “The hot mix plants aren’t even open yet.”

“Unfortunately during this time of year there is no hot mix,” said City Administrator Jeff Rhodes. “When you combine cold mix with water that is often in holes this time of year, it simply comes back out.”

On Wednesday, the Times-News used its Facebook page to ask readers to identify the location of potholes in the city. Thousands of viewers left hundreds of comments.

The most commonly mentioned street with bad potholes was Greene, a heavily used street connecting central city with the West Side and Interstate 68. Other frequently mentioned streets were Virginia and Maryland avenues as well as Lee and Centre. Some who commented reported damage to their vehicles that resulted from driving through potholes.

The mayor said he believes additional funds may be available for paving this summer. He said his personal paving priorities are White Avenue, Winifred Road, Greene Street, Centre Street and Virginia Avenue in the area of the CSX underpass.

Frostburg City Administrator John Kirby said street inspections in that elevated municipality are lagging behind those of Cumberland.

“We just got thawed out yesterday,” Kirby said Thursday. “There are a significant number of places where the first layer of pavement has come up, but they are not too deep. However, at the pavement seams near intersections there are some big holes. The same guys who plow our streets are patching some of the worst of them.”

Kirby said he has personally seen potholes on Bowery, Center and College, but suspects that similar damage exists on streets and roads throughout the Mountain City.

“We had significant icing that accelerated the deterioration of the streets,” he said.

Potholes form because asphalt road surfaces eventually crack under the heat of the day and the constant stresses of traffic, according to wisegeek.com. These cracks allow snow and rain water to seep into the underlying dirt and gravel. During cold nights, the water freezes and expands, pushing out some of the dirt and gravel, leaving a hole when the water eventually evaporates. Drivers continue to drive over these unseen holes, putting even more stress on the thin asphalt layer covering them.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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