BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Transportation Department is reminding drivers to watch for potholes on roads and highways, as winter weather can create the holes and cause them to expand.

“There is usually enough time during most winter storms for our road maintenance crews to complete repairs,” ITD Chief Highway Engineer Kimbol Allen said. “So far this winter season, however, crews have had little time between storms to do much more than prepare for the next storm to hit.”

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ITD explains:

During times of high moisture and multiple freeze-thaw cycles, much like has been experienced throughout many parts of Idaho in recent weeks, older sections of roadway often show sign of stress with potholes and broken pavement.

Potholes and areas of major breakup develop as water seeps into cracks and saturates the base material below the roadway surface. Ice expands in the cracks and base material, loosens the road surface, and it collapses as it melts and traffic drives over the top.

Potholes are a common problem in older or stressed roadways generally seen during late winter as temperatures begin to rise above freezing. However, the abundant moisture coupled with a wide range of temperatures has created similar conditions and widespread roadway breakup.

ITD is responsible for maintaining interstates, state highways and U.S. routes, while all other roads are under the jurisdiction of the local city or county.

Depending on conditions, pothole maintenance may take a backseat in winter. ITD crews’ first priority is clearing snow and ice from roadways. Potholes often are filled with temporary patching material in winter, but continued moisture can loosen and break the patches.

“Only after the potholes are able to dry completely can a more durable patching material be used and be expected to last,” ITD says. “Other secondary duties include guardrail repair, sign repairs or replacement, and equipment repair.”

Drivers are reminded that potholes and other broken pavement sections are considered roadway hazards and drivers need to take extra precaution to avoid hitting these spots. Potholes and roadway hazards are often marked with roadway breakup signs or hazard markers. Drivers should watch for roadway breakup signs in areas of major break up or smaller, diamond-shaped signs to signify areas of breakup, eroded shoulders or other hazards.

Source: Idaho Transportation Department