Pothole recipe: Combine cold, wet, frozen, warm

More than 8000 potholes each year get filled in Portland

A PBOT crew fills a pothole in Portland, January 27, 2017 (KOIN)
A PBOT crew fills a pothole in Portland, January 27, 2017 (KOIN)


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Take a spate of cold weather, then add a dollop of water. Freeze the water, then melt it. Repeat.

Soon, you’ll have potholes. Many of them.

When the ground expands and contracts, water gets into the ground. When the water freezes, it expands.

Each year, the Portland Bureau of Transportation fills more than 8000 potholes. After the stretch of winter weather the Portland metro area just went through, there are bound to be many potholes.

And there are.

“We are definitely above average for the number of reports for potholes,” said PBOT’s Dylan Rivera. “We know where they are most troublesome, where they might be hazards.”

PBOT sends crews out everyday to work on the potholes in the city. Rivera said they work on the busiest streets first — the ones with public transit, freight routes, the most traffic — but they’ll also concentrate on a specific geographic part of the city.

“If they see some in the neighborhood streets and side streets, they’ll go ahead and do those while they’re in” that area.

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Damaged cars

Mike McMillen, the manager at Affordable Tire and Brake, said he’s had “10 times” the calls after the storms. Cars hit potholes, damaging tires and cracking wheels.

He’s noticed some “pretty significant” potholes on his daily I-5 drive to and from Sherwood.

“The problem with the potholes is when it starts raining they fill with water and you don’t see them and you can’t avoid them,” McMillen told KOIN 6 News. “I’ve just been telling customers to drive carefully, try and identify the potholes. If roads are exceptionally bad maybe find an alternate route.”

Some of the drivers with damaged cars “are in better spirits than others,” he said. “Nobody likes to spend unnecessary money on their cars.”

PBOT is also working to clean up the other debris from the winter storms.

“The City of Portland is really working hard on multiple fronts to clean up from the winter storms,” Rivera told KOIN 6 News. “We need the public’s help and we need you to report everything you can see.”