Pennsylvania roads have a reputation for their potholes. They develop during freeze/thaw cycles often experienced in the spring, a.k.a. “pothole season.”
The freeze/thaw cycle occurs when “we have warmer temperatures during the day, and then at night, it freezes,” explains David Thompson, PennDOT District 8 community relations coordinator. He says that this happens predominantly in the spring, but potholes can form year-round.
Thompson explains that a pothole is formed when water from rain or melting snow gets under the road through cracks caused by typical roadway wear and tear. When temperatures drop below freezing, the water freezes and expands. Then when temperatures rise, the water melts, leaving behind a cavity under the road.
As this cycle continues and vehicles drive over the weakened roadway, the surface of the road caves in, creating a pothole.
Pennsylvania residents may have guessed as they’re jolted around while driving that potholes are hard to stay on top of. “Fixing potholes requires labor, it requires resources, it requires time,” says Thompson.
To repair potholes, PennDOT fills them in with asphalt mixtures. The organization also takes steps to prevent them from forming in the first place, such as sealing cracks and applying surface treatments, says Thompson.
To report a pothole, individuals can visit the “Submit Concern” tab on PennDOT’s website or call their PennDOT county maintenance office.