Pothole proliferation irks motorists
Some roads in Summit County look more like minefields. But explosions didn’t cause craters that currently riddle streets in Park City and Snyderville they are potholes.
Take a drive along the road that connects Ute and Uinta boulevards east of Smith’s Food and Drug at Kimball Junction — but beware. Ripped up pavement at many major intersections in western Summit County could wreak havoc on any car’s alignment.
Readers of http://www.parkrecord.com
were asked to identify the worst potholes in the area. Here are some of their responses:
"Dodging the bumps up and down from The Canyons is like playing a game of Super Mario Brothers but without the ability to pick the whole thing up and throw it over the mountain," writes one reader.
"It’s almost too wide for a car to straddle and is about a foot deep now," writes another reader referring to a pothole recently near the Subway restaurant at Kimball Junction.
"Check your spare tire before driving out of Jeremy Ranch at the stop sign next to the Jeremy Store," warns another Web site reader.
Named for their deep, "pot-shaped" appearance, typically potholes are blamed for many wintertime tire blowouts. But according to Tom Pinkney, manager of Burt Brothers Tire and Service in Snyderville, "this has been a fairly substantial year for potholes."
"Late, late winter is always a hotbed of that sort of damage," Pinkney said.
Nearly every day his mechanics see tire and wheel damage and alignments that need repair.
"It’s a problem and it seems to happen every year," Pinkney said. "Don’t leave yourself in an unsafe situation because of it."
The cost for the repairs varies, he added.
"If you have to replace a tire on a Chevy Chevette, it’s not too bad, but if you’ve got a $100,000 BMW, you may be forking out a lot of money for a tire that was damaged from the pothole," Pinkney said. "I hope they get these things repaired ASAP because I find myself dodging them constantly."
Whether motorists are upset when they get to the shop often depends of what part of the country they are from, said Tom Gordon, manager of Mercer Automotive in Park City.
"Some find it is less than what they’re accustomed to, some find it annoying and costly both," Gordon said.
Often windshield damage is also caused by potholes, he said, adding, "the rocks and the broken away pieces tend to catch in tire treads and flip up and hit the windshield of the car behind one."
"With I-80 — the [Parleys Canyon] lanes being in the state of disrepair that they are — I can’t even drive a couple of my cars up the hill for fear of damage," Gordon said. "It’s the freezing and thawing action that tends to tear [roads] up."
The Utah Department of Transportation blamed defective pavement for several holes along a section of Interstate 80 that began to form in Parleys Canyon a few weeks ago. But the state is also responsible for fixing State Roads 224 and 248 and depends on the public to notify them about potholes that need repair.
"We get a lot of calls that way," UDOT spokeswoman Bethany Eller said. "Weather has a large part to do with it."
The rapid freezing and thawing of snow this winter have roads suffering the effects, she added.
"Water will seep into the cracks and freeze," Eller said, adding, "it creates a weakness in the pavement so when the traffic goes over it the pavement is very weak."
Often citizens who want reimbursement from the state when a pothole damages their car are told the hazards are "part of the inherent risk of driving," she said.
"We take those all on a case-by-case basis," Eller added.
Meanwhile, public works departments in Summit County and Park City have received more complaints this year about potholes than usual.
"Some are mad if they hit them going too fast and break a tire, but actually a lot of them call just to let us know," Summit County Public Works Superintendent Mark Offret said. "I hate [potholes]."
His crews were out repairing roads this week.
Recent snowstorms have kept them busy plowing streets instead of fixing them, Offret said, adding, "it’s the same guys that plow the roads that fix the potholes."
"When things get wet and it gets cold, any place that water will sit, you end up with a pothole," Offret said. "Once it freezes, the ice breaks roads."
A material called "cold mix" is used to temporarily fix potholes during the winter, said Jerry Gibbs, director of Park City Public Works.
"We fill up some of the worst ones [but] moisture will continue to be present in those holes and so the mix will start coming out again as soon as we start getting some colder temperatures," Gibbs said. "Compared to other years, the potholes are much more prevalent."
Potholes often form near cracks in streets or where different consistencies of asphalt have been used, he said, adding, "a trouble spot is right there at Heber (Avenue) and Swede (Alley). We had a major problem with the asphalt coming up."
"Most of them start at the edge of the road," Gibbs said, adding that pieces of asphalt "pop out" easier than concrete when roads freeze. "They’re going to take a beating until late spring when we’re able to go in and fix them on a more permanent basis."
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