Surprising Stuff

Calling a “Pot Hole” an inverted speed bump or a safety feature that slows traffic is not making lemonade out of lemons, it is done to avoid answering the question: Why are there so many huge potholes this winter?

The answer is threefold.

First:
We plow the snow off the roads and any high spots get broken up and that starts a pothole.

Second: We’ve had a Yo-Yo winter with temperature going up and down with significant snowfalls in between the huge temperature swings.

Third: The city has converted from sand with a touch of salt to 100% salt, which does more damaging to the roads.

Sand is abrasive and plugs the storm sewers, but salt, although it makes the roads safer, is corrosive and harmful to the roads, infrastructure and to the environment as it runs off the roads and into the land, rivers, and lakes.  Salt makes the roads safer by lowering the melting point of ice and turning it into a liquid that drains off the road, into the storm sewer and then into the White River. The melting ice also seeps into cracks in the roads and as that liquid melts more ice the salt in it becomes diluted and the melting point goes up and the water refreezes, thus doubling its damage to the roads.

So, why all the potholes? It is the price that we pay for using 100% salt and wanting to drive on ice-free roads versus driving on sand embedded in snow or ice on the roads. The switch to 100% salt moved the balance toward safety by making the roads safer at the expense of the infrastructure and the environment.

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