Potholes are the pits
The rough, hectic end of winter has made a mess of area roads, and kept highway maintenance crews busy.
Lingering cold, wet weather delayed efforts to fix many of the potholes that have appeared on region roads in recent weeks.
But this week the weather cleared and the patching has started.
Some of the potholes had already been repaired with temporary mixes, but the recurring winter storms forced the holes back open.
In several places in downtown Fredericksburg the potholes have grown and multiplied, leaving some already rough city streets in even worse shape.
One particularly deep pothole, at William Street and Washington Avenue, even had its own orange cone marking it for several days. By Wednesday, city crews had removed the cone and filled the pothole with a mix of asphalt and sand.
The pothole problem spreads much farther than city streets, though.
The Virginia Department of Transportation has targeted dozens of roads for a pothole-filling blitz.
In the Fredericksburg region, VDOT crews and contractors will be working on Interstate 95 and on roads in Caroline, King George, Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.
“We’re going to have crews all over the region,” said VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon.
City crews also are out working, filling the potholes, said Doug Fawcett, director of Fredericksburg public works.
As with VDOT, which expects to spend more than double its $157 million winter budget, the city coffers have been hit hard by winter’s impact on the asphalt. The city maintains its own streets, and is reimbursed with state funds, while VDOT handles county roads and major routes statewide.
“We have already spent well over what the budget is,” said Fawcett, adding that the city is still crunching figures on how expensive snow removal and road treatment have been over the winter.
The pothole work will only add to the growing cost of the winter cleanup on the city streets.
Fawcett said this winter has been the worst in about five years.
Most area roads seem to have been scarred to some extent by the rough winter.
Since March, road crews have filled 2,717 potholes by hand in the Fredericksburg District using a “cold mix” blend of stone and tar, Hannon said.
During the same time, crews have used 99 tons of hot mix for longer-lasting pothole patches.
Those numbers will rise, because there is plenty more pothole filling expected to be done in the next few weeks.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436