After this winter’s episodes of snow and ice, county roads are marked with potholes deep enough to damage tires and, in some places, possibly cause or contribute to accidents.
To correct the problem, the Department of Public Works & Transportation Feb. 20 began a pothole repair project. Dozens of repair teams converged on county roads to fill holes in the asphalt caused by the cold weather.
“Through this concentrated effort, Prince George’s County roadways will be safer, more accessible and easier to travel,” said Acting DPW&T Director Darrell Mobley on the county website.
Statistics from AAA Mid-Atlantic show that pothole damage costs drivers about $6.4 billion per year, according to the agency’s website.
“For safety’s sake, motorists should avoid hitting potholes, but that’s not always possible because even a puddle of water can camouflage or conceal a deep pothole. Even worse, potholes are seemingly omnipresent this winter,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs.
According to Michigan.gov, potholes form when snow and ice converge with asphalt on roads. When snow and ice melt, the water seeps into holes and cracks in the asphalt caused by traffic. As temperatures drop, the water freezes and expands, “forcing the pavement to rise. As the weight of the traffic continues to pound on this raised section…a shallow divot occurs under the surface and the pavement breaks, forming a pothole,” the website said.
Townsend said state and federal governments will sometimes pay motorists for damage that results from potholes. Repair costs can range from $50 for a simple wheel alignment to upwards of $500 to replace a wheel, he said. The cost can increase even more if a vehicle’s suspension system is damaged, he said.
AAA Mid-Atlantic suggests that motorists whose cars are damaged provide photos and details of the pothole location and vehicle damage.
Motorists file about a half million claims for pothole-related damage annually, AAA Mid-Atlantic stats show. The governments of the District, Maryland and Virginia, as well as many local jurisdictions, allow motorists whose vehicles have been damaged by potholes to file a “claim for damages”
The repair work Prince George’s County is doing is in addition to pothole repair being done by the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA). State roads are identified by numbers, such as Route 214 and Route 450. DPW&T is responsible for county roads.
Authorities are asking for the public’s help. Motorists are asked to drive cautiously in areas where pothole repair is being conducted.
Residents are asked to call 301-952-0555 to report potholes on state roads and 301-499-8520 to notify county officials of a pothole that needs repairing.