Water, freezing temperatures add to Rutland pothole problem

04/01/08 7:50AM By Nina Keck
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(Host) Road crews face a tough job when Vermont's roads deteriorate, especially in the spring.

Freezes and thaws have turned many paved streets into an "asphalt Swiss cheese."

Yesterday, in our series on road conditions we went to the Northeast Kingdom. Today, VPR's Nina Keck checks in with the street department in Rutland.

(Keck) Danny Maniery runs the Rutland City Streets Department. Sitting in the department's break room, he manages a tired smile. In thirty years on the job, he says he's never seen road conditions like this:

(Maneiry) "Never - I never seen it this bad. It's very frustrating for all the guys. We need the weather to be nice and sunny - but with nice and sunny comes thawing and what comes there is water."

(Keck) Water's a problem, he says because it seeps into cracks in the pavement. At night when the temperature drops, the water freezes and expands. That opens up the cracks in the roads even more. Add a steady pounding from car and truck traffic, more freezes and thaws and Maniery says it's a recipe for a mess.

(Maniery) " I tell the guys - OK - we're going to fill potholes on main street again - you know, you do it five six days in a row - same holes - because most of the holes you can't keep the water our of ‘em when you fill ‘em and at night they freeze - and the process it goes over and over again."

(Keck) Maniery says a faulty batch of UPM - that's the sticky black, universal patching material they use to fill potholes - didn't help. A replacement shipment arrived in early March and Maniery says it's working much better. But he says to really fix the holes they need to repave them. Unfortunately, the asphalt hot mix used for repaving won't be available until May when paving companies kick in for the summer season. Until then, Maniery says all they can do is patch.

(sound of shoveling and truck beeping in background)

(Keck) City employee Tom Garofano wears a bright yellow reflective jacket as he fills a pothole on Curtis Avenue.

(Garofano) "How frustrating is it to do this day after day? Very - it seems like it's a never ending job. Will you be back on the same pothole in a couple days? Chances are yes - laughs - ‘tis the season in Vermont."

(Keck) Local police say there haven't been any accidents related to the potholes, but there have been plenty of flat tires.

(sounds of a tire store)

(Keck) Mike Delles manages Goss Tire in Rutland and he says they've seen a 10% increase in business.

(Delles) "Yesterday we had to go after one of our customers who had just hit an enormous pothole on Stratton road and they damaged both tires beyond repair - and they were fairly new tires unfortuantly for her."

(Keck) No kidding - Delles says getting her back on the road probably cost between $350 and $400.

(Keck driving) " I'm taking a drive now on Stratton road in downtown Rutland - and the right side of the street is littered - oooo - with potholes. Like that one. The difficulty is they're filled with water, so you're not sure if the hole underneath is an inch deep or three to four inches deep - the kind that can really do some damage. I just passed a big orange sign that said "caution bump." . . . It fits

For VPR news, I'm Nina Keck in Rutland.

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