Official: Repairing potholes game of catch up for crews

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis Public Works employees Jose Escarsega, left, Lavaughn Mayfield, middle, and Jesus Garcia fill potholes Friday with coal mix on Mabry Drive.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

For city street crews, the worst part of winter storms is just beginning.

They’re busy filling and repairing potholes.

“We are always repairing potholes but now it’s going to be more prevalent because of the storm,” said Public Works Director Clint Bunch .

Bunch said repairing potholes after a storm is a game of catch up for city crews.

Potholes develop when moisture sits in cracks in the pavement. The moisture expands when it freezes, eventually popping pieces of asphalt or concrete out of the road to create a pothole.

Bunch said major arteries — streets such as Seventh, Fourteenth and 21st — suffer the most damage because of increased traffic.

Bunch said crews were out repairing potholes through the weekend to catch up from the last storm.

Potholes are filled with a cold mix of asphalt and traffic helps pack the material down to fill the hole.

“We urge drivers to take it easy and be aware that the bad weather has caused a lot of damage,” Bunch said.

Bunch said complaints about potholes always increase after a storm.

“Most of the public realize we’re out there all day every day (fixing potholes) but we still get complaints,” Bunch said. “Some people are just telling us.”

Bunch said the amount of damage a pothole can cause to a car depends on the size of the pothole. He said factory wheels and tires often fare better against potholes than aftermarket rims and low profile tires.

Darlene Marez, a teacher in Clovis, said temporary pothole fixes aren’t enough.

“They’re putting a Band-Aid on it,” she said. “Instead of actually fixing them.”

Marez said the same spots on the roads become potholes each year during winter.

“Since it happens that way, it would see like they would know and permanently fix those places,” Marez said.

Marez said she doesn’t change her route to work because of potholes, but she drives slower to minimize the damage to her car.

Ina Carey lives in Texico but works and shops in Clovis and said she tries to avoid potholes but it is difficult.

“They’re everywhere,” she said.

Carey said the worst she’s experienced is on Mabry Drive at Prince Street.

“They need to fix it, really, really fix it bad,” Carey said.

Bunch said the city is aware of the condition of Mabry Drive, which is a state highway. Bunch said the city has a maintenance agreement with the state, meaning the city also maintains the state portion of the highway.

“It’s deteriorating rapidly,” Bunch said. “We’re in talks with the state for funds to repair those roads.”

Bunch said because of the state’s financial situation, receiving money to fox the road may not happen anytime soon.

Gary Elliott, owner of A-1 Alignment, said potholes can mean bent or damaged axles, tire damage, and knocking vehicles out of alignment.

Elliott said his business increases about 20 percent after a storm.

“It does a lot of damage to vehicles when the roads are like that,” he said.

Mickey Hamilton, store manager of York Tire, said calls from customers with alignment or tire issues have gone up from five or six a day to 10 calls a day since the storm.

“They’re definitely saying they’re hitting potholes. There’s been a lot of tire damage because of potholes,” he said. “There’s some nasty potholes out there.”

Hamilton said calls usually increase after a storm and his crew is preparing for more possible storms heading towards the area this week.