Wayne — The Wayne County Executive threw on a construction vest and spent his Sunday morning filling potholes that popped up after the polar vortex this week. 

Warren Evans joined one of the county's road patching crews on Merriman Road near Michigan Avenue in the city of Wayne with temperatures rapidly rising. 

With Sunday's warm-up and weather fluctuations of over 60 degrees in a few short days after historically frigid temperatures, potholes will become more of a problem, road experts say.

The temperature reached a high of 55 at 2:21 p.m. Sunday, one degree shy of a record 56 in 2016. The normal high temperature for the day is 33, according to the National Weather Service.

Evans said the freezing and thawing is occurring on roads in historically bad shape. The  roads, he warned, "are going to get worse."

"We'll undoubtedly have more blistering winter weather in the weeks to come," Evans said. "This dramatic freezing and thawing will rip up our roads even worse than usual as the water seeps into cracks, freezes and then thaws, causing the pavement to deteriorate further.

"Unfortunately, we can't control the weather, but our crews will be working and doing all we can to keep the roads safe."

Midwest freeze-thaw cycles mean potholes — on streets, roads, freeways and bridges — form when melting snow or rain get into cracks on pavement and the base beneath it.

The water freezes when temperatures drop and expands before melting. Repeated cycles weaken pavement which eventually crumbles under the weight of passing vehicles.

“Maintenance supervisors across the state are taking inventory now of the most likely places for pavement breakups as the rain and thaw approaches,” Jeff Cranson, Michigan Transportation Department spokesman, told the Associated Press. “They are planning for filling and patching.”

Pothole season typically begins in spring. Evans said, and while Wayne County road crews will be patching potholes before then, fluctuating temperatures will prevent them from finding permanent solutions. 

"Much of what our crews will be doing in the coming weeks is temporary patching to get us to warmer temperatures, where we can do more extensive work," Evans said. "... We've been putting Band-Aids on our roads for decades and we've been paying for it with flat tires and bent rims and now, crumbling roads."

To report a pothole, call 1-888-ROAD-CREW. 

Read or Share this story: