The snow, ice and bitter cold are making it even harder to fix the abundance of potholes in Schenectady this year.
There are more potholes than normal, thanks to the hard winter. Workers have been cold-patching them, but the weather has not cooperated, Mayor Gary McCarthy said.
Snow keeps falling, lining the potholes with ice.
Before a pothole can be patched, workers must get it dry, which means melting the ice with salt. Then they use a blower to dry the pothole before patching it, McCarthy said.
If it’s too cold for salt to melt the ice, the hole can’t be patched.
“The ice is stronger than the surrounding surface,” McCarthy explained.
Other potholes are too shallow for cold-patches to stick, he said.
Many potholes this year are only 2 inches deep, eating through just the top coat of blacktop, he said.
“The cold patch really doesn’t adhere to that,” he said. “Cars run over it and it’s gone almost immediately. I hate to say it, but we need them to be deeper.”
Of course, there are also monster potholes this year, spreading across the entire width of some side streets.
Those are also hard to patch in cold temperatures. They need hot tar to rebuild the road.
“The cold patch is really a temporary fix,” McCarthy said.
For many potholes, the only fix so far has been a bright orange cone.
Some cones are being placed temporarily in potholes that the crews haven’t gotten to yet, McCarthy said.
“You want to warn people so they don’t hit it and damage their vehicle,” he said.
Cones are also left if the hole can’t be fixed with a cold patch. “There’s other issues [such as] sunken manhole covers,” McCarthy said.
The worst isn’t over yet.
“I still expect more because you still have a lot of frost in the ground,” he said. “Even though it’s March, we haven’t had those warm days.”