Emergency pothole repairs underway on area freeways
As Metro Detroit motorists contend with an increase in pothole-ridden roadways this winter season, the Michigan Department of Transportation is doing emergency patching in some of the worst areas.
“The potholes are out of control on our metro roadways because of the extreme temperature changes we had, especially in January,” MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said. “That freeze-thaw cycle wreaks havoc on concrete.”
MDOT recently awarded a $5 million contract to Cadillac Asphalt to do emergency pothole patchwork along the hardest-hit stretches of freeway in Metro Detroit.
On Friday, patchwork included a stretch of eastbound Interstate 696 from Dequindre to Mound, southbound I-75 from Coolidge to Crooks and southbound U.S. 24 near Square Lake. Crews are expected to continue their work near those areas over the weekend, weather permitting, Cross said.
On Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., only the right lane will be open on eastbound I-696 from Dequindre to Mound. On southbound from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., only the right lane will be open from Coolidge to Crooks and on U.S. 24 from 8.am. to 6:30 p.m., the right lanes will be open and the left lanes closed.
Cadillac Asphalt reopened one of its plants to use hot mix asphalt, a product typically used in the spring, Cross said. MDOT contracts with the road commissions in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to do patchwork during their normal routes. Those workers are using a cold patch, she said.
“Normally, pothole filling happening in the winter would be infrequent,” Cross said. “The activity going on is more like what we get in the spring when all the ice suddenly melts.”
In the past two months, the area saw dramatic swings in temperatures because of a fluctuating jet stream, said Steve Considine, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.
“This winter has been characterized by extremely cold spells and extremely warm spells,” he said. “That is what contributes to the potholes.”
Considine noted that in December, the area entered a fairly significant cold snap right before Christmas. Things warmed up during three days last month — from Jan. 10-12 — when the highs ranged from 46 degrees to 57 degrees. For several days after that there was another spell of cold weather with highs in the 20s and lows in the teens and single digits.
By the last part of January the metro area had returned to fairly mild temperatures with several days with highs 40s and low 50s, Considine said. This month there’s been a little bit of a cold snap with highs in the 20s and 30s and lows in the single digits and teens.
The swing will continue as Metro Detroit enters another pattern of mild weather early next week.
It’s not usually until late February into March that the area experiences prolonged warm periods, Considine said.
Cross said there have been many crashes and scary situations that have arisen because of potholes. She advises motorists to drive cautiously.
“Keep both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel,” she said.