Looking for ways to repair highway potholes

When a road or highway deteriorates to the point where potholes form, care should be taken to ensure that the repair will last as long as possible, which will delay the need to again divert traffic while the road is repaired. Some pothole repairs quickly show signs of cracking or fail completely, creating the need for repeated repairs, causing continued traffic delays and increasing costs.

The FHWA studied a variety of pothole repair techniques to determine the best practice. The study was based on assessing 1,250 pothole patches at eight locations under varying weather conditions over a four-year period. The study found that 56 percent of the repairs were still functioning by the end of the study period. The report also found that the most critical issue in pothole repair is the quality of the materials used to fill in the pothole.

"The cost of patching the same potholes over and over because of poor-quality patching material quickly offsets any savings from the purchase of less expensive mix," the FHWA report concluded. Higher grades of pothole patching material typically have aggregate mixes that are less susceptible to moisture damage and are more durable. More durable pothole patching materials are more expensive than other patching materials.

Other key variables impacting the effectiveness of pothole repair include adequate compaction of pothole fill material following the repair, the preparation of the site for repair by removing loose material and underlying moisture, the subsequent levels of precipitation at the location, and the amount of and vehicle mix of traffic on the road.

Published 9-24-2010