Spring Marks Beginning of ‘Pothole Season’ in Colorado

By Bob Wilson

Spring is most commonly known as “pothole season” at the Colorado Department of Transportation. This is due to the fact that Colorado will experience snowy or wet conditions with freezing temperatures followed by warmer weather. This causes potholes to start forming on Colorado’s interstates and highways statewide.

Potholes begin to form when snow and rain seep into a road’s foundation, decreasing its strength. When temperatures drop below freezing, the surface of the roadway becomes weak and freezes water in the foundation. As water in the foundation freezes and thaws, it expands and shrinks the roads surface, creating more cracks and decreasing the roads strength even more. CDOT calls this the “freeze/thaw effect.”

“Once the roadway freezes and thaws, it can no longer support the weight of traffic and begins to crumble, which can instantly cause potholes,” said Kyle Lester, CDOT Director of Highway Maintenance. “As more vehicles travel over a pothole, the worse it tends to become.”

CDOT maintenance crews make daily trips along interstates and highways, examining the roadways for potholes, debris, guardrail damage and more. When a crew member spots something hazardous in the roadway, they will call it in immediately to have an appropriate vehicle or back-up crew come to make necessary repairs.

“We rely a lot on our customers,” said Lester. “While our crews are constantly on the lookout, things can happen right after they pass through an area and that’s when our customers become an extension of CDOT. Our crews are always appreciative to receive calls from customers about potholes or other obstructions in the roadway because it allows them to address it immediately before the situation gets worse.”

Any form of pavement is susceptible to potholes. In the summer, maintenance crews mill and pave the roadway to make it as smooth as possible for motorists.

“Potholes bother us just as much as they do the public,” said Lester. “As technology advances, we’ll continue to explore ways to eliminate potholes altogether. But until then, we ask motorists to please work with us and report any potholes you might see so we can address it right away.”

The public can visit https://www.codot.gov/topcontent/contact-cdot to report highway maintenance concerns or to ask about other CDOT related topics.

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