We can all dream right? Unfortunately, New England is infamous for the amount of potholes that appear on our streets and sidewalks.
The City of Lowell’s Department of Public Works has been out managing the potholes that are forming on the streets and sidewalks. On Friday, March 21 we were able to watch the workers fill the potholes with asphalt and address some questions such as, what it took to fill them and why they appear to happen overnight.
Hot patch asphalt being loaded onto pothole next to Mahoney’s Gas Station on Plain St. in Lowell
How do potholes form?
Potholes are formed from water, whether it is from rain or snow, which seeps into the cracks of the pavement. Over time this water pools beneath the pavement and causes erosion, the erosion leads to the breaking and sinking of the pavement, and you have a pothole.
A major reason why potholes form during the winter months can be thanked in large to the New England weather and constant changes in temperature. This winter in particular was difficult due to not only the amount of snow we received but the constant flux in temperature. This week alone we are looking at 2-4” of snow, and then 50-60 degree days later on in the week.
During these winter months, once the water has developed beneath the pavement, there is a contracting and expanding cycle. The contracting is the water freezing, and the expanding is due to the melting of water on warmer days. Constant contracting and expanding makes the pavement crack, cracked pavement, along with constant traffic causes potholes.
Lowell DPW workers, Surprenant, Ladebauche and Riley hot patch a pothole
Why does it seem like they just filled a pothole and it has already reappeared?
Once again you can largely thank the weather for the reappearance of potholes especially during the months of November through January. There is a plant where the asphalt is made and during these months the asphalt will freeze before it even gets to the site. Due to this there are two different types of pothole repairs. There is the cold patch and during cold weather months this patch is used as a temporary fix. Once it gets warmer and the asphalt won’t freeze in between trips there is a hot patch fix. The hot patch is a long term fix for potholes.
Want to report a pothole?
In the City of Lowell, there are many ways you can report potholes so they get fixed as quickly as possible. On the city website there is the E-Gov application. You can place your request and receive a ticket number to track the issue. This way you can check the status of your request and submit your email to receive a confirmation.
SeeClickFix (direct link here) is another way you can report a pothole completely online. SeeClickFix allows you report an issue regarding anything throughout the city, you simply tell us the location and we direct it to the correct department. The great thing about this is that you can also download it as an app onto your smart phone.
Finished! DPW workers fill pothole with hot patch for a long term repair
Once you download the app you can directly upload pictures of the issue onto the website.
As always you are more than welcome to also call the Public Works department directly at 978-674-4111.
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