Potholes Costly for VDOT and You

By: Jarrod Aldom
By: Jarrod Aldom

VDOT spent a lot of money this winter on snow removal. And that put a lot of strain on an already tight budget. We found out the snow's effects will reach beyond winter in the form of potholes.

It's estimated that VDOT has filled more than 90,000 potholes in the last two weeks. That's adding more misery to an already tight budget.

"This is the first really bad winter we've had, probably since 1996," says Sandy Myers of VDOT Public Relations. "So, we were very lucky in years past that we were able to meet our budget for snow removal."

VDOT budgeted $48 million for snow removal this year, but it's spent closer to $120 million. Add to that more than $700,000 for filling potholes, and cuts have to be made.

"We were allowed to use emergency funding for the potholes, which did help," says Myers. "However, we are going to have to look at the whole budget for the year and probably move some money from other projects to cover the expense that we shared."

Potholes are created when moisture seeps under the pavement freezing expanding and thawing. That weakens the pavement. As traffic passes over it, it loosens the pavement further. Finally, the pavement crumbles and pops out. VDOT's not the only one hurt by potholes. Your car is too, and it can mean some costly repairs.

"When it (the car) hits a pothole, you damage the ball bearing down inside of it," says Ben Thomas, owner of an auto shop. "It causes critical looseness and a lot of veering in the road and steering problems."

Thomas says potholes cause lots of damage, and he's seen an increase in that type of damage already. VDOT officials are calling this the worst pothole season since the late 1970's.


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