It's been a record-breaking winter in terms of snow and cold temperatures.

Even though spring is near, pothole season is just getting started.

Avoiding Potholes

The Michigan Department of Transportation has some suggestions to help motorists avoid hitting potholes and to help minimize damage if they can't be missed.

The suggestions include:

    • A properly maintained vehicle and tires can help avoid potholes or minimize damage when one is struck.
    • It's best to slow down then release the brakes before hitting a pothole.
    • Properly inflated tires in good condition handle potholes better than worn, over-inflated or under-inflated tires.
    • By driving extra cautiously and not tailgating, drivers have more time to see and react to any potholes they're approaching.

State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle said:

 Our aging roads, a history of under-investment, and an unusually harsh winter will bring what we expect to be an absolutely horrendous pothole season," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "Potholes form so quickly that crews can't get all of them right away, and they're showing up nearly everywhere on state and local roads. If you leave your driveway, you're almost certainly going to cross some awful potholes this spring."

The bottom line: Avoiding hitting potholes is best. Also, driving with extra caution and not tailgating will help drivers see and react to potholes.

Michigan Department of Transportation
Michigan Department of Transportation

Potholes are sometimes difficult to spot in the daytime, and even more so at night. Puddles also can conceal potholes, either already formed or beginning to form.

Last year, MDOT spent about $8.8 million on pothole repairs.

This year, it expects to spend 50 to 100 percent more this year.

"The best way to prevent potholes is to keep roads in better shape to begin with," Steudle said. "Unfortunately, without the proper investment in roads, MDOT, county road commissions and city public works departments are left little choice but to spend more each year filling potholes - which we all know is not a permanent fix."

When drivers spot potholes, reporting them to the local, county and state agencies help get them fixed more quickly. If a pothole is on a city street or county road, report it to the local public works department or county road commission.

Reporting Potholes

Problem potholes can be reported to these agencies:

    • Michigan Department of Transportation: Online or by calling (888) 296-4546.
    • City of Grand Rapids: Online or by calling (616) 456-3232.
    • Allegan County Road Commission: Online or by calling (269) 673-2184.
    • Barry County Road Commission: Online or by calling (269) 945-3449.
    • City of Grand Haven: Online or by calling (616) 847-3493
    • City of Grandville: Online or by calling (616) 538-1990.
    • City of Greenville: Online or by calling (616) 754-5098.
    • City of Holland: Online or by calling (616) 928.2400.
    • Ionia County Road Commission: Online or by calling (616) 527-1700.
    • City of Lowell: Online or by calling 616-897-5929.
    • City of Kentwood: Online or by calling (616) 554-0817.
    • Kent County Road Commission: Online or by calling (616) 242-6950.
    • Montcalm County Road Commission: Online or by calling (989) 831-5285 or (877) 992-6272.
    • City of Muskegon: Online or by calling (231) 724-4100..
    • Muskegon County Road Commission: Online or by calling (231) 788-2381.
    • Ottawa County Road Commission: Online or by calling (616) 842-5400.
    • City of Wyoming: Online or by calling (616) 530-7260.
    • City of Zeeland: Online or by calling (616) 772-6400.

What Causes Potholes

Ahmed Mobarki/ThinkStock
Ahmed Mobarki/ThinkStock

Potholes occur when snow and ice melt as part of seasonal freezing and thawing cycles. The water that results seeps beneath the pavement through cracks caused by wear and tear of traffic. As  temperatures drop below freezing, water becomes ice and expands, forcing pavements to rise. As traffic pounds the surface, temperatures rise above freezing with divots occuring beneath the pavement, breaking it and causing a pothole.


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