The ice from the recent wintry storm is all but gone from Denton County roads, but motorists expecting a smooth ride are in for a bumpy surprise.
Hundreds of potholes have begun appearing on the 400 miles of roadways in the county, a problem that road and bridge officials are already hard at work mapping and planning to fix.
Just how many are out there, and how much it will cost to fix them, is being assessed.
“Right now we don’t have a cost,” said Mike Simmons, the administrative foreman for Denton County’s road and bridge east department. “We’re working on our bridges [and] steep inclines on rural county roads.”
The latest batch of fresh potholes is emerging after ice on roads has thawed out.
Moisture creeps into gaps in the roads, then pushes the road materials out when it freezes. Once the ice melts, the sections of roads have been broken into soft pieces. Vehicles driving over the weakened areas cause breaks in the roadway.
“I am sure we will have quite a bit,” Simmons said. “Especially with ice — ice will devastate a road.”
While the potholes are everywhere in the county, they will show up first in areas with heavier traffic.
“Trucks really cause them to pothole and fail because of the weight,” Simmons said. “Trash trucks cause lots of damage because they are so heavy; it’s not their fault.”
Motorists, too, could be looking at costly repairs to their vehicles because of potholes.
“The big things are your shocks, struts, ball joints and tie-rod ends. Struts and shocks [are] probably the worst,” said Kevin Romskog, owner of Strande’s Garage in Denton. “After that, front-end alignment, because you’re wearing your ball joints and tie-rod ends.”
Repair costs can vary widely, Romskog said, and can easily jump as high as $1,500 or more.
Lindsey Baker, a city spokeswoman, said Denton officials are assessing roadways now to check for damage from the storm and sanding operations.
“Once we have that completed, we will be able to take care of any damage that may have been caused,” Baker said.
County road and bridge crews have two options when it comes to fixing the pesky potholes.
Crews can place a coal mix in the holes as a temporary fix, or they can take backhoes to the roads, digging down to a solid dry layer and then applying a base to rebuild the roads. Repairs can take anywhere from 30 minutes on a small hole to a day or two on a larger problem.
“It just depends, we have to let it dry out as much as possible, then we dig,” Simmons said. “We will be spending days working on [road] failures and potholes.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.