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Moisture causes roads to weaken, prompting potholes

With the weather warming back up, Columbia Public Works is working to fix as many potholes as quickly as possible.

Rain, snow and sleet have caused pavements to freeze, and the material underneath roads causes pavements in Columbia to expand. Unfortunately, that makes roads lose their strength.

Seth Nelson, a pavement engineer with Columbia Public Works, says once moisture thaws, it weakens the pavement and subgrade.

Traffic and snowplows break up the weak pavement, eventually causing a pothole. The salt that is used to fight snowy days on concrete, pavement and bridges contains chloride, which also speeds up the process.

Road workers for Columbia Public Works advise drivers to slow down, not only for drivers themselves but for those working on the roads.

Boone County Public Works Road and Bridge Superintendent Bryan Boyce said on gravel roads, they see potholes but not quite as many as last year. In the event that they do need to fix these potholes, it can only happen during the thaw cycle, because experts say it’s nearly impossible when it’s frozen.

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