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Winter wreaks havoc on streets in Hickory

HICKORY, NC (March 6, 2019) — Snow, ice, and brine – oh my! Winter wreaks havoc on City streets. Not only does winter weather produce difficult travel conditions for drivers, it also harshly impacts the pavement itself.

What causes potholes?

Potholes develop in the winter due to precipitation, fluctuations in temperature, and topical road treatments that lead to road structure deterioration. Potholes are caused by weak asphalt sections being affected by freezing water. As snow and ice melt, the resulting water seeps into cracks in the pavement. When that water freezes, it expands and cracks the asphalt further, creating a weak area. A pothole then begins to form as heavy vehicles continue to drive over these weak areas and freeze-thaw cycles expand the damage.

Another factor that contributes to potholes forming in the winter is salt. When winter weather is forecasted for the region, City of Hickory Public Services crews apply a brine solution to major thoroughfares, bridges, and underpasses 24 to 48 hours in advance of the weather event. While this solution improves driving conditions, it can also help create weak areas in the asphalt that result in potholes.

Water combined with diluted salt freezes at a lower temperature, around 15 degrees, which makes it very useful for combating freezing conditions on roadways. In fluctuating or extreme cold temperatures, this treatment can be harmful to roads, as the surface continually freezes and thaws with temperature fluctuating. Water trapped in the asphalt through cracks will freeze and thaw, causing cracks to expand and compromising the roadway. Due to the freeze point being lower, the total number of freeze and thaw cycles is increased, causing potentially more damage in extreme cold conditions.

Reporting potholes

Roads riddled with potholes make for rough and unpleasant commutes around town, and can even lead to costly car repairs. Potholes left untreated will continue to expand, creating an even larger and more expensive issue to correct. That’s why it is important to report significant potholes to the appropriate entity as soon as possible. But, who should you call?

There are more than 479 lane miles of streets owned and maintained by the City of Hickory. The City’s Street Division is responsible for maintaining a safe and dependable street system, allowing citizens and visitors alike to travel safely and efficiently. This division coordinates maintenance for all City-owned streets, sidewalks, storm drainage, and related infrastructure.

To report a pothole on a City-maintained street, please call Public Services at (828) 323-7500 or submit an action request via the online Action Center. Please be sure to provide detailed, accurate information on the location of the pothole to help City crews respond quickly. The City’s goal is to repair reported potholes within 24 hours.

Not all streets within the City are the responsibility of the City. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) works in partnership with the City of Hickory to maintain roadways and ensure safe travel conditions.

NCDOT maintains the following major roadways and streets:

• Interstate 40
• U.S. Highway 70
• U.S. Highway 127
• Catawba Valley Boulevard
• Clement Boulevard NW
• Cloninger Mill Road
• Fairgrove Church Road
• Highland Avenue NE
• Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard
• McDonald Parkway
• Old Lenoir Road
• Springs Road
• 16th Street NE (Sandy Ridge Road)
• 1st Avenue and 1st Avenue SE
• 2nd Avenue NW and 2nd Avenue SW
• 3rd Avenue NW and 3rd Avenue Drive NW
• 4th Street SW
• 9th Avenue Drive NW
• 12th Avenue NE
• 22nd Street Place NE
• 29th Avenue NE and 29th Avenue Drive NE
• 30th Avenue Drive NW
• 39th Avenue Drive NW

NCDOT is committed to repairing potholes on state-maintained roads within two business days when they are reported using the online pothole reporting system. For other issues or concerns about state-maintained roads, contact NCDOT or call 1-877-DOT-4YOU (1-800-368-4368).

“2018-2019 has been one of the wettest years on record, and these wet conditions continue to cause pavement issues to arise,” said Steve Miller, Assistant Public Services Director for the City of Hickory. “It’s extremely important for the traveling public to inform us any time they see a pothole. Public Services will then initiate a repair or make sure the appropriate jurisdiction is notified.”