N.J. crews contend with scourge of potholes

 (Mel Evans/AP Photo, file)

(Mel Evans/AP Photo, file)

Filling hundreds of recently erupted potholes is a priority for highway maintenance workers in New Jersey.

You don’t have to travel far to find one. New Jersey Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Schapiro said the multitudes are due to constant fluctuations above and below the freezing point this winter.

“That freeze-thaw cycle is very harsh on the roads. When there’s rain or snow and ice that gets into the cracks of the roadway, when it freezes, it expands, and that will damage the roadway,” he said. “When it warms up, it will melt. That allows the water to get into those cracks.”

When drivers hit a pothole, it can cause damage that typically runs $50 to $2,000 for repairs, said Cathleen Lewis with AAA.

“It’s not just about having a flat tire. It could be that you need a new alignment. It could be that you need a new rim,” Lewis said. “It could be that you’ve bent a tie rod. There’s lot of things that can happen. Unfortunately, it gets more expensive the more damage there is.”

If you see a pothole, Schapiro advised calling 1-800-POTHOLE to report it.

“An emergency pothole that we consider a hazard to motorists, if there’s a potential for damage, things like that, then our response time is just a few hours to get out there and get that repaired,” he said. “Other potholes that might be less severe, it may take a few days.”

Thirteen pothole-filling machines are on the job with state workers to make the repairs. More extensive resurfacing work will wait until asphalt plants open in the spring.

State crews have repaired more than 218,000 potholes in each of the past five years.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.