Baltimore County News
Chief, Bureau of Highways
From a road-maintenance perspective – and as Chief of the Bureau of Highways that’s my default perspective – March is not the month of endless TV basketball. Nor is it an opportunity for everyone to be an ersatz Irishman. It is (and rightfully should be) Pothole Month. It’s the time of the year when frozen roads begin to thaw and come apart. Axel-breaking cavities materialize out of nowhere. Fissures form. And an already irritable driving public, fed up with snow and cold, faces an obstacle course of holes and black-water chasms every morning behind the wheel. March is the month to fill those holes and bring order to the world.
The figures are not in yet, but Baltimore County road crews have probably filled twenty thousand potholes this month. Pothole professionals (and let’s give them their due) from eleven Baltimore County shops have been working every weekday – each shop filling about one hundred holes.
Their job is often dubbed a throw-and-go operation. They shovel a cold patch mix into the hole, filling it just above surface level (to allow for compaction) and then vanish. At the end of winter (early March) they begin the operation with cold patch and then move on to more durable hot mix as it becomes available with the onset of spring.
Pothole patching is a very big job. It varies from year to year. Almost seventy thousand holes were filled in 2001 and less than forty thousand in 2012, a relatively mild winter. I suspect that this winter will be closer to the top than the bottom. That, at least, is what March portends.