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Axle breakers

Axle breakers

Jon Erichson is hoping to get to the potholes before they get to you — or more specifically, your car.

"The majority of the potholes we repair are part of a normal, ongoing maintenance procedure we have," said Austin's city engineer. "This time of year, we have crews out basically all the time, patching potholes."

City streets scheduled for improvement this year don't get ignored, either.

"We'll address the potholes with a temporary fix on those streets," Erichson said. "Just because they're on the (construction) list doesn't mean we just leave them."

Each year, the city orders 5,000 tons of bituminous for its annual maintenance — including potholes.


They're filled with a bituminous winter mix, Erichson said, "with a larger concentration of oil, which keeps it softer and allows it to be pliable for us to work with."

The number and depth of potholes is weather-driven, he said.

Tim Davidson, manager of Tiny's Body Shop, agrees.

He's seen bent wheels, ruined tires and more, casualties of drivers who don't avoid the rough patches.

"It depends on the year, the weather," Davidson said, "and how quick it warms up."

He's right. The fact that temperatures have stayed relatively cool and steady may help matters locally.

Most potholes start as tiny cracks in pavement that fill up with water and develop during cycles of freezing and thawing. Combine constant wear and tear from vehicles with the repetitious freeze-thaw cycle, the asphalt breaks down, and, bingo, you have a pothole.

"We know there are going to be potholes every year," Erichson said. "Some years are worse than others, no question about it."


The repairs this year began a little later, he said, because of the amount of snow the area received.

"Our efforts this time of year are much more concentrated," Erichson said Monday. "We know where they're at, but we also get calls, and we address them that way."

Call it job security.

"We're never done," he said.

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