- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2004

Road crews kept busy yesterday trying to fill the dozens of potholes that were created by snowfalls and snowplows during the week.

“It happens every year at this time,” said Virginia Police spokesman Sgt. Wallace Bouldin, explaining that potholes blossom after cold weather freezes water seeping into asphalt, which is then often torn out by snowplows.

Most potholes are about an inch deep and a few inches wide. Some are several inches deep, capable of blowing out tires.

The biggest problem was on Interstate 95 approaches to the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, which is undergoing major construction to enlarge it. During the morning rush hour, traffic was backed up northeast about 6 miles into Prince George’s County.

The right lanes of northbound and southbound I-95 were closed as repair crews plastered and leveled the new potholes with what crews call “cold patch.” Crews may return next week to make more permanent repairs, said Kellie Boelware, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Cold patch is actually warm asphalt that can be easily removed later and replaced with hotter, permanent asphalt, said Ryan Hall, spokesman for Virginia’s Department of Transportation.

In the District, pothole repair crews continued the chore they began Wednesday. Potholes are “certainly increasing as they always do at this time of year,” said Bill Rice, spokesman for the D.C. departments of Public Works and Transportation.

“We are committed to respond within 72 hours,” Mr. Rice said. “We’re doing better this year than we did last year.”

About noon yesterday, Virginia pothole crews went to the west side of Woodrow Wilson Bridge to level out the rides for evening rush-hour commuters.

Through the day, Virginia crews had concentrated on the left lane of I-95 north of Route 644, Interstate 495 at Braddock Road, and Glebe Road and Columbia Pike near intersections with Interstate 395.

Winter is not over and “we can expect more potholes as the weather changes,” Mrs. Boelware said.

“It’s a never-ending battle until springtime,” said Mr. Hall.

The repair crews tear out the cold patches, refill potholes with hot asphalt and tamp it down to a surface even with the surrounding road surface.

To avoid damages and injuries from potholes, police say motorists should stay a good distance behind preceding vehicles to see potholes ahead.

“Don’t veer and don’t follow too close,” said Cpl. Rob Moroney, spokesman for Maryland State Police. “It is better to hit the pothole than to turn out of your lane and cause another crash.”

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