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Think potholes are bad? Wait until warm weather


The recent onslaught of ice, snow and freezing rain has left Carroll roads with raised sections of pavement and treacherous dips. But the worst is yet to come, road maintenance experts say.

When warm weather returns, road sections that have been forced up by freezing water will collapse and become gaping potholes.

"It's going to be a massive problem come spring, with the potholes and repairs we need to do to the roads," said Jay Nave, administrative assistant with the county's Bureau of Road Operations, which maintains 910 miles of county roads.

The main road damage so far hasn't been potholes, but road "heaving," or raising, Mr. Nave said.

Heaving occurs when water freezes beneath the road surface and forces sections of the pavement up, creating a roller-coaster effect for drivers.

County road crews won't be able make permanent repairs until warmer temperatures cause the raised road sections to settle.

Then traffic will create potholes, which can be filled in with new blacktop.

"We're waiting for the frost to come out of the ground. It's frozen 7 to 10 inches deep," Mr. Nave said. "We can't do any permanent repairs now; it just won't bond.

"We have to wait for the potholes to develop to fix it," he said.

Mr. Nave said he couldn't estimate the cost of repairs.

The problems of raised roads are more prevalent on old country roads that have been widened and paved, Mr. Nave said.

The heaving has affected all county roads and is not limited to specific areas, he said.

The 300 miles of state roads in Carroll are in much better shape than county roads, mainly because they have shoulders.

"The water sheds to the shoulders and doesn't puddle like it does on the county roads," he said.

Randy Houck, the resident maintenance engineer with the State Highway Administration in Carroll, said his crew has been busy patching potholes on Route 140 from the Baltimore County line to Route 31. The repairs are only temporary until the holes can be filled in when temperatures rise, he said.

Workers have also put up signs at county bridges to warn motorists of raised pavement where the road meets the bridge surface.

In the towns, officials say that aside from a few potholes, the road damage hasn't been too bad.

Linda Hess, Taneytown's clerk-treasurer, said there was a big pothole and some road raising on East and West Baltimore Street but that workers repaired the damage last week.

"We have a few potholes now, but we're not in too bad shape," said Mount Airy Mayor Gerald R. Johnson.

"But it's probably a little early to tell," he said. "Once the thaw comes about, it'll probably do damage to some of the roads."

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