Potholes; why they show up this time of year and how you can get them fixed

Spokane crews have filled over 200 potholes this season

SPOKANE, Wash. — Swerving around the road while driving, hearing that loud clunk at the bottom of your car – welcome to pothole season in Spokane.

Last year, the City filled thousands of potholes on Spokane roads. While the snow has cleared and the sun has come out, the weather has opened up several sore spots on the asphalt.

4 News Now met up with a day Spokane street crew at about 11:45 a.m. Monday morning. The crew was filling their twenty-fifth pothole of their shift. They told 4 News Now that on average, they fill about 50 potholes each day. You multiple that by a five-day work week, and that’s hundreds of potholes a week.

Potholes are common this time of year simply because of the unpredictable Inland Northwest winter weather. For example, this January we started with weeks of snowfall and snow left frozen to the roads. However, a week ago, the area received rainfall that washed away the bulk of the snow. Monday, sunshine returned to Spokane.

“That freezing – that water gets into the cracks in the road. It freezes, of course, [and] the ice expands. When it thaws again, it pops out pavement,” said Marlene Feist, City of Spokane.

That combination of elements gives us the pothole.

The City of Spokane said they hear your gripes and groans. They have two crews working to fill those potholes 20 hours a day, seven days a week. You might notice them on Spokane roads. They drive trucks carrying more five tons of cold mix.

“We use that equipment to heat that mix, which allows for more adhesion,” Feist said.

City crews said you can think of cold mix like Play Dough. It’s pliable and it holds, but it will never fully harden.

The cold mix will eventually wash out. It is a temporary fix while we wait for summer to use hot mix, which is permanent.

While it may feel like we’ve been dealing with potholes all season long, let’s put this into perspective. Last year, the City of Spokane filled more than 4,400 potholes. As of Monday, they’ve filled around 200 potholes. We’ve still got a long way to go.

If you see a pothole, the easiest way to report it is to dial 311. It takes about 48 hours until crews can find and fill the hole, according to the City of Spokane.

If you see a crew working out there, slow down and give them some space. The crew 4 News Now met on Monday said they’ve already seen some close calls. They’re just trying to do their job injury-free.