Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pot Holes

Pot-Holes, South Africa, Prospector  Alaska in the spring is a crap shoot in regard to the roads. This is quite a descriptive comment. You see, when fall hits and the snow starts, the city and state quit repairing roads.  The only thing they do is to plow the roads but they don't worry about repairing them.

Its kind of a catch 22 situation up here.  Over the fall and winter, the ground freezes solid.  In the process, the water in the ground expands and pushes up wards.  This includes the ground under roads.

If they fix the pot holes, they do it at the beginning of summer so fewer people break axles.  If its too close to the first snow fall, they won't fix anything because the snow piles into the holes and gets packed down.  Eventually its all nicely filled and covered so no hole.

Come spring during break up (when all the snow and ice melts) the holes appear or reappear when the ice melts and the thawed ground shrinks.  This is the point where roads actually begin falling apart or sinking.

One time I was driving towards the airport in Anchorage and the road was covered with water.  I didn't see the pot hole in the road, drove through it and punctured the tire.  I think the ragged edge cut into the tire when I drove over it.  As the snow and ice melt, the roads tend to be covered with water until the ground has thawed enough for it to properly drain.

If you look at roads in Alaska, the edges are always wearing away or the asphalt has significant cracks or pot holes.  I've seen stretches of road that look like an earthquake struck because the road is riddled with gaps and holes.

Even though the process requires the state to dig down, let it set for a period of time before filling the hole in before paving the area, the freezing and thawing of water in the ground still messes with the actual road.  

Even in places where roads are not paved you see how the frost heaves change things.  The road in front of my house where I live most of the year is a prime example.  It was built without a proper foundation so every time it rains, or the snow thaws a bit more of the road washes into the lake.  The city said they'd redo all the dirt roads in town but usually that means bringing in dirt, laying it down, before tramping it down solidly.

Its a wonderful road until its totally dry and it becomes dusty or it rains and the mud takes over.  At this point, grooves are imprinted in the mud so when it dries, the road is back to being bumpy and cruddy.  I don't think those beautiful roads last more than 2 weeks at best.

Road building is a challenge in Alaska where the conditions make it difficult.  I'll tell you more when I talk about building the Al-Can Highway back in the 40's.  Have a good day and let me know what you think.

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