PARKERSBURG - Changing temperatures mixed with periodic rain, snow and ice are causing issues for area roads.
Rick Lemley, Public Works director for the city of Parkersburg, said the warm and cold snaps are causing cracks and potholes in city streets.
"We seem to be keeping up with them pretty well," he said. "The weather has been changing so rapidly, though, it does cause some issues."
A motorist travels on Garfield Avenue in Parkersburg Friday. Garfield Avenue is maintained by the West Virginia Department of Highways and not the City of Parkersburg. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
In recent weeks temperatures have soared into the low 70s and plunged into the teens, often with a mix of rain, sleet, snow and ice. Mayor Bob Newell said those factors, combined with salt on the roads and heavy traffic, leads to damage.
"It's common and a concern this time of year," Newell said. "We don't have many periods of time when we have this cold and warm and then it rains and then the water gets underneath and it freezes. It has taken a toll on our roads.":
Lemley said he did not have an immediate count on the number of services calls road crews have received, but such calls come in almost daily. Crews use a "cold mix" patch, which is an asphalt mix that can be used for short-term repairs during cold weather. More extensive repairs or repaving of roads has to wait until the summer months when asphalt manufacturers reopen for the season.
Newell said some of the most damaged roads also are the most well-traveled. Those often are state routes that run through the city, and Newell said state road crews will wait for warmer weather to repair or repave those roads.
"There is a period of time in the winter where everyone needs to realize there are going to be cracks and potholes in the roads," Newell said. "As soon as it gets warm enough, those will be addressed."
In the meantime, Lemley said the city has seen few problems with keeping roads cleared and salted. The city this week received part of a 580 ton salt order.
"It was about half of what we ordered, but we are still in really good shape," he said, adding during times of high demand it is not unusual for a city to receive only part of a restock order. Lemley also said the city does not mix its salt with cinders or sand.
Newell said while the city has a street fund that is used for annual repaving projects, year-round repairs are funded through the city's supply item line in the budget and paid for with coal severance tax revenue.