Weekend warm-up means more annoying potholes popping up

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

As the Metro Detroit area enjoys a weather warm up heading into the weekend, one roadway annoyance is bound to rear its ugly head — potholes.

Temperatures are expected to go from a projected single digits below zero Thursday night up to the mid-20s and even higher this weekend. That will mean trouble for the roads.

“That’s when you get all that ice in the cavities melting,” said Craig Bryson, spokesman for the Road Commission for Oakland County. “You get those unsupported sections of roads and it doesn’t take long for those potholes to form.

“It happens with much greater frequency following this type of temperature swing. It’s just a matter of hours before we get some major holes.”

Bryson said about a dozen crews have been working continually during the normal daytime shift to patch potholes countywide.

Crews will be sent out to address emergencies — what Bryson calls “wheel busters” — on evenings and weekends, when needed.

The basic weather outlook for southeast Michigan for Friday is “cold and quiet” but then things begin to warm up on Saturday.

“It’s going to be partly cloudy and cold in southeastern Michigan but then we’re looking ahead to a changing temperature pattern over the weekend,” National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Tilley said.

In the metro area, the high for Saturday and Sunday will be near 38.

Some pothole patching crews are expected to take advantage of the warmer weather.

In Wayne County, crew members were asked to work Saturday to patch potholes, said Bob Conrad, director for road maintenance for Wayne County. The number of areas in the county they’ll address will depend on how many workers are available to work, he said.

“Realistically, Saturday will keep us even with the game,” he said. “The advantage of getting out there now is we get some of the small ones. Every once in a while you get a couple big ones.”

Conrad said the turnaround to patch potholes is one to three days after the department is notified. During the spring the range increases to three to five days. He said he expects there be a noticeable increase in potholes as soon as next weekend. Temperatures are expected to reach mid-40s by midweek, according to the National Weather Service.

Potholes are starting to pop up in Macomb County, said Leo Ciavatta, maintenance superintendent for the Macomb County Department of Roads. His crews focus first on state roads, primary roads and then subdivision roads, he said.

Emergency crews will be called out during evening and weekend hours to patch potholes that Ciavatta said are bad enough to cause a lot of vehicle damage, such as bend tire rims.

“If you get something that’s going to cause people to swerve or cause damage it’s a safety thing,” he said.


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Staff Writer Tom Greenwood contributed.

Extended forecast

Friday: Mostly sunny with highs near 23.

Friday night: Mostly cloudy with lows around 18.

Saturday: Mostly cloudy with a chance of light snow showers until 1 p.m. Little accumulation. Highs near 38.

Saturday night: Partly cloudy with low around 24.

Sunday: Partly cloudy with highs near 38.

Sunday night: Mostly cloudy with low around 28.

Monday: Partly cloudy with highs near 39.

Monday night: Partly cloudy with low around 26.