It’s pothole season, and Schenectady appears to have a bumper crop.
“This has been a particularly bad pothole season,” said Carl Olsen, general services commissioner in Schenectady.
Olsen said Schenectady pothole crews have been out for the past two weeks temporarily patching the holes with Durapatch until the asphalt plants open in April.
“We geared up early and doubled the effort,” Olsen said. He said his department has two, five-person pothole crews out rather than the usual one crew.
“We had really cold temperatures for a period of time and no snow,” he said. “The frost was driven down deeper.”
When the asphalt plants open, the potholes will be filled with a “hot patch” that provides a better, more durable repair, Olsen said.
Peter Van Keuren, a spokesman’s for the state Department of Transportation’s Capital Region, said the DOT has been getting more calls than usual on its pothole hot line (1-800-Pot-Hole).
“So far we’ve gotten 18 calls regarding state roads,” Van Keuren said.
As soon as a call is received about a pothole on the Northway, for example, the DOT crews go out and fill it with temporary “cold patch” material. Van Keuren said DOT crews also fill potholes when they encounter them along the state roadways.
If a person reports a pothole that isn’t on a state road — it might be on a town or county roadway — then the DOT notifies the municipality in charge of that road.
In Saratoga Springs things aren’t as bad, according to Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco.
“No it really hasn’t been that bad,” Scirocco said. “It’s certainly better than last year. We had more calls last year.”
Scirocco said because the city DPW wasn’t as busy plowing snow the past month or so, the crews have been able to keep up with filling the potholes.
“We try to stay on top of it during the course of the winter,” Scirocco said.
Clifton Park Highway Superintendent Richard Kukuk said its has been a “normal season so far” for the seasonal craters that can throw cars out of alignment and rattle a motorist’s bones.
“We’ve had an average number,” Kukuk said.
“We have two crews out every day,” Kukuk said. He said the crews used something he calls “winter mix” that is sticky enough to fill most potholes and stay put for a period of time.
“It’s not as good as hot asphalt,” he said.
For example, on a busy stretch of Ushers Road his road crews had to fill a pothole three days in a row during the snowstorm two weeks ago.
“We patched it before the storm and had to go back out and patch it again,” Kukuk said.
Kukuk estimated that each of his two crews fills between 40 and 50 potholes per day. The town has well over 100 miles of town roads to maintain.
He said the recent warm weather, especially the nights when the temperatures stays above freezing, have been a blessing.
“The frost is coming out of the ground and it’s not freezing every night,” he said.
The highway superintendent said he is preparing a memo for the Clifton Park Town Board stressing that the town has to continue with a regular road paving and maintenance program. He said when a road gets older, there are more cracks and imperfections in the roadway that allow water to seep into the pavement and when it freezes, a pothole is born.