By Sara Konkel
Meridian Times staff writer
Pothole complaints for Meridian Township have been pouring in to the Ingham County Road Department all winter. As the temperatures rise above freezing, director Bill Conklin said he expects complaints to skyrocket.
Potholes have already cost Meridian resident Tadley Evans hundreds of dollars.
“Last week I hit a pothole full of water and blew out two of my tires,” he said. “I was livid. Those need to be fixed and fast, or else the next few months will be a nightmare.”
Potholes form when water seeps into cracks in the pavement and freezes. The ice then expands and creates fractures that continue to grow until the pothole is patched. This spring, the potholes are expected to be rampant.
“Due to declining road funding in the state of Michigan, there are quite a number of older roads that have not been resurfaced that potholes will be fairly bad on,” Conklin said.
For this same reason, previously-damaged Meridian roads are suffering this winter.
One of these older roads is Lake Lansing Road between Hagadorn Road and Marsh Road in Meridian Township, Conklin said.
The only option the commission has during winter is cold patch, an asphalt aggregate mixture used to temporarily fill the tire-popping craters.
For East Lansing Auto Pros owner Martin Washburne, the potholes and road flaws have brought in an abundance of business.
“Gosh, I’ve seen probably more (repairs) than I’ve seen in three years,” he said.
Every day, Washburne sees issues such as: crushed wheels, damaged front ends, broken suspension parts and alignment issues.
“(Potholes) can do just as much structural damage to a vehicle as sliding right into the side of the road or another car sometimes,” Washburne said.
Some motorists may be in luck when it comes to vehicle repair fees due to potholes. According to MDOT’s website, if a car suffered damage from a pothole, the vehicle owner is potentially eligible to file a claim with the MDOT office in correspondence with the city in which the damages occurred.
However, there are several restrictions. MDOT will award money only for cars damaged on state trunklines, which are highways with an M, I or US prefix. MDOT must also be aware of the pothole for 30 days or more without repairing it and the company will pay for what is left after the insurance company pays its share.
The harsh winter has done more than deteriorate the roads and caused problems for drivers. The maintenance budget is being depleted with the constant need for salt and patching so the lack of funding could cause even bigger complications.
“If the winter continues the way it has for winter maintenance, that will affect surface maintenance and patching and reduce the budget available for that,” Conklin said.