Weather Alert

Pothole season is here once again

MASON CITY — No sooner than the snow melts, some of Iowa’s roads are quickly becoming a moonscape of potholes.

Pete Hjelmstad , field services coordinator for the Iowa Department of Transportation, explains what causes those gaping holes in our roadways.

“Water runs down into cracks in the road and freezes at night and we all know what happens with the freeze-thaw cycle,” Hjelmstad says. “Leave a can of pop in your car overnight in the winter, it expands and then pops. That same thing happens with the roadway.”

He says the DOT is constantly working to maintain roads, including U.S. highways and the interstates.  “We do patching projects where we replace parts of the pavement that are bad so we can keep the water out,” Hjelmstad says. “A lot of times on the highways, you will see those black strips where we go and seal cracks.”

In recent years, the agency has been doing a lot more of what are called micro-surfacing projects.  “We did a large project on Highway 65 a couple of years ago from Iowa 57 all the way up to Mason City as well as a little on the interstate,” Hjelmstad says. “What that is, it’s a very, very thin surface treatment that completely seals up the road.”

Without those crews working on potholes daily, Iowa drivers would be doing a lot more swerving — or shouting as we hit one. The average annual cost for vehicle repairs due to rough pavement is $377.

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