Toledo’s pothole craters create misery for motorists

3/1/2013
BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A car hits one of the deep potholes just off the Washington Street exit on southbound I-75 in Toledo. This winter has been hard on the roads.
A car hits one of the deep potholes just off the Washington Street exit on southbound I-75 in Toledo. This winter has been hard on the roads.

That was not the surface of the moon.

It was Secor Road in West Toledo and also Collingwood Boulevard in the heart of the Old West End.

Both streets are among the many marred by the predictable plague that strikes roadways every winter: potholes.

A pothole on I-75 northbound near downtown took out at least 10 vehicles Thursday morning, including one tractor-trailer rig, Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said.

“It was a huge pothole in the center lane,” he said.

Police were called out at 8:34 a.m. after a car was disabled on the highway with a flat tire.

About 30 minutes later, eight more vehicles and the truck were disabled after driving over the gaping hole.

The Ohio Department of Transportation responded and filled in the hole.

David Pratt, Toledo’s commissioner of streets, bridges, and harbor, said the city filled in 51,000 potholes last year — down 10,000 from the previous year because of a more aggressive crack-sealing program.

“It’s not common in brand-new streets but sometimes if there is a bad seam or joint and moisture gets underneath, it’s pretty much game over once that gap forms and traffic drives over it,” Mr. Pratt said.

It’s hard to miss the potholes this season, he acknowledged.

Toledo Police officer James Mrkva helps Bethany Pavy change a tire. She said she hit a big pothole the previous night and did not realize it flattened her tire until another motorist flagged her down in her morning commute. This winter's freezing and thawing has left many city streets pockmarked.
Toledo Police officer James Mrkva helps Bethany Pavy change a tire. She said she hit a big pothole the previous night and did not realize it flattened her tire until another motorist flagged her down in her morning commute. This winter's freezing and thawing has left many city streets pockmarked.

“This has been a perfect season for potholes with the number of freeze/thaw cycles,” Mr. Pratt said. “It would thaw, then it would rain, and then it would freeze again. That’s the scenario.”

So far this season, Toledo crews have filled in 7,900 potholes. Across the city many streets still need substantial repair.

The holes are taking a toll on vehicles.

Gerry Holman, who works at Tireman Auto Service Centers, 3159 King Rd., said he’s seen lots of dismayed motorists this winter with damaged vehicles and flat tires from pothole encounters.

“We see a lot of bent wheels, tires with impact bulges in them — it’s nothing out of the ordinary,” Mr. Holman said. “Usually after the plow trucks have hit the roads after the snow and salt — that’s when the roads start to crumble.”

New rims can cost $300 to $800 each for higher-end cars, while rims for economy cars start at about $100, he said.

Some of the city’s worst streets are to be repaved this year under the annual street reconstruction program.

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell’s capital improvements budget sets aside funding for paving 51 miles of road lanes.

The budget allocated $21 million, which doesn’t include money from state and federal matching grants. An additional 10 lane miles are to be repaved in 2013 with money from previous years’ budgets.

Since November, ODOT statewide has used 13,544 tons of patch to fill in potholes. Toledo generally uses “cold patch” during the winter to fill in the thousands of holes. ODOT uses several tools to combat potholes, including asphalt reclaimers, dura-patchers, hot-mix patch, and cold patch.

Theresa Pollick, an ODOT spokesman in Bowling Green, said crews are out all winter filling holes. “Snow, ice, and rain seeps into the pores and small cracks of roadway surfaces,” Ms. Pollick said. 

“Once the water gets into the road, then freezes, it can cause the pavement to be stressed, to expand, and to displace paving material. Sunlight and friction from vehicle tires create varying temperatures that keep the damaging freeze/thaw cycle in motion.”

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com, or 419-724-6171, or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.