January 18, 2013 12:50:42 PM
Sarah Fowler - firstname.lastname@example.org
The rain may finally have ended, but its costly residue remains.
After seven consecutive days of precipitation, the roadways have taken a major hit, in the form of potholes.
As a result, the Mississippi Department of Transportation is warning drivers to use caution.
"We would like to advise motorists to slow down and use extreme caution while driving along this portion of roadway," Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert said in a statement. "We are working as quickly as possible to repair the damage caused by this winter weather event."
In the Golden Triangle, six-and-a-half inches of rain fell. Rainfall for the year is already four inches above normal.
City of Columbus Public Works Director Mike Pratt said a six-man crew has been working to fill the numerous potholes since Monday.
"We've been going around filling (potholes) to try to keep them from getting any bigger or harming cars," Pratt said. "As long as it keeps raining, they're going to keep forming."
Matt Dunn, MDOT's assistant maintenance engineer for the region, said the potholes formed because the pavement simply could not accommodate the steady deluge of rain.
"When you get a good bit of rain like we've had, the water penetrates into the asphalt and, because of the amount of rain we've had, the ground is saturated and the water can't get away from the road fast enough," he said. "The water just deteriorates the asphalt at an accelerated rate and that's why we're getting more potholes."
Dunn also said that if the roadways already have cracks, potholes are more likely to form.
He attributed the potholes to not only the recent rainfall, but lack of funding to properly pave the roads.
"We don't have the funds available to keep the roads in as great shape as we need to," he acknowledged. "We are patching more potholes instead of paving. Because the cost of asphalt and fuel has increased, it costs more to pave a road than it did in the past. We're not able to overlay or pave the roads like we use to."
Dunn said the need to pave roads is in high demand across the state, but the funding simply isn't there.
"You can only patch a road for so long before it comes to the point you need to overlay the road, but the funding doesn't go as far as it used to," he said.
Pratt said city employees have been filling the potholes with cold mix but may have to dig out the hole and patch them with hot mix once the weather dries out and they can properly assess the hole.
"When it quits raining, we'll go back and fix them properly. It just depends on how bad they get," he said.
Pratt said areas in Columbus that have been the most affected have been Gardner Boulevard, Bluecutt Road, and 18th Avenue off Military Road.
There is some good news, however. According to AccuWeather, the Golden Triangle will be blessed with sunny days for the next week. The next chance of rain will be Friday, Jan. 25. according to the extended forecast.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.