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Pothole Pop-out: Why don’t holes stay filled after the fix?

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Posted at 1:27 PM, Mar 22, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — With all of the potholes being filled as you drive around Indianapolis, you may notice a lot of asphalt mix that’s used to fix them "popping out."

So, what gives?

RTV6's Alanna Martella is working for you, looking into the reason behind why the fill isn’t a permanent fix.

"I had to call my dad, I hit a pothole," Jody Carr, an Avon resident, said. "It was just ridiculous."

Carr was on her way to work, driving along Washington Street on the west side, when she struck a pothole. Her dad came to help change the tire.

It is a common story for drivers in the Circle City — you’re cruising down the road and BAM! All of a sudden, you and your car are jolted by a pothole.

"There's just so many down this road," Carr said. "I mean, I know they're starting to fix it. But it's just ridiculous. I mean, this is going to cost me a lot of money now because they're taking forever to fix the holes."

But that asphalt cold or hot mix fix isn't always permanent. When making your way around town, you can see asphalt "popping out" of already filled craters. So what is it that creates these potholes or causes the already filled ones to pop back out? One major factor is the freeze-thaw cycle.

Water gets into cracks in the pavement, whether that pavement is new or old. That water freezes, then expands those cracks, creating a hole. Cars driving over those filled holes causes the hole to grow and furthers the crumbling. Pair that with older roadways and it’s a recipe for disaster.

"If they fix the potholes right the first time, this stuff wouldn't happen," Stan Aders, Carr’s father who came to help her with her blown tire, said. "Because all they do now is hot patching, and as cold as it is, it ain't working."

The ultimate fix is resurfacing. The Department of Public Works has a list of roads to be resurfaced this year, as part of its 2019 capital improvement program but until that weather settles into consistent temperatures and that permanent fix comes to play, the plea will re-sound.

“Fix the potholes, please,” Carr said.

RTV6 reached out to both DPW and INDOT about “repeat offenders,” or areas that need to be fixed more often than others. Both organizations said they don’t keep that data, but roads that are highly traveled and are older do tend to crumble more quickly.