GREENFIELD, Ind. (AP) - Winter's lingering grip is putting a strain on roads, with continual freezing and thawing resulting in more potholes at a time when most wintertime damage is typically repaired by now.
While the first day of spring was Wednesday, street and road crews say the chill and precipitation is making the job of patching potholes even more time-consuming than usual.
"We're keeping up, but they keep popping up everywhere," said Stephen Fruth, who works for the Greenfield Street Department. "You put one (patch) in, and two (potholes) keep popping up."
Fruth is on a crew of four that travels throughout Greenfield responding to complaint calls or patching holes it finds on its own.
But they're the same people who also plow the streets when snow comes. After last week's snowfall, they saw their own pothole repairs come up as the snowplow blades scraped the pavement.
While the back-and-forth work would be aggravating to most, the crew just takes it in stride.
"It's just a part of it," Fruth told the Daily Reporter.
"We just take care of one hazard at a time," Curt Anderson added.
Greenfield Street Superintendent Jim Hahn said the city has two crews that go out every day in search of potholes. But more snow is in the forecast for this weekend, which will probably result in even more holes from freezing and thawing.
"We fix the holes, and then it snows and the blade pushes the material out," Hahn said. "With these snows being so wet, the freezing and thawing is even worse and it's creating more holes. . I would rather it just freeze and stay frozen."
Road crews for the city, county and state have been tackling potholes with a cold-patch compound ever since winter began. Harry Maginity, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said the cold patch is a temporary solution; pothole patching works better when hot patch is used.
But temperatures have to be well above freezing before the hot patch will work. The material isn't even being sold yet because it's still so cold.
"This is a very kind of strange springtime," Maginity said.
At the Hancock County Highway Department, crews have been working through a large stack of work orders — some from public complaints and others from staff members who have noticed problems on rural roads.
Engineer Joe Copeland said he sends out three to five crews a day. But because the county has not had the money to keep up with road maintenance, the poor condition of the county's rural roads means more potholes.
The biggest hole Copeland has seen this season was 2 feet in diameter. Holes will continue to appear as long as the cold weather lingers, he said.
"It may continue to get worse and pop out more," Copeland said.
Back at the city department, assistant superintendent Brad Evans remembers what it was like in March 2012. With 80-degree temperatures a year ago, Evans said crews were doing large pavement projects instead of potholes.
But Hahn said the way the weather is going now, crews will be patching holes through May at least.
Hahn also hopes to purchase a new patching machine that would apply a more permanent patch to city streets.
Local street departments welcome calls from the public to report potholes. But it may take time to keep up.
"As long as you're going from having moisture and having freezing temperatures (to) thawing temperatures, potholes can keep occurring, and they can come up really, really fast," Maginity said.
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