Tuesday, March 09, 2010

WTF Potholes!

If you live in the northeastern U.S., in particular in the New York City area, and you drive a lot, then you understand how a propos this title is. I mean, what the flock is up with all the frigging potholes in the street lately? As someone who's been driving many miles every day to and from work for the better part of 12 years running, I can say with certainty that for the past ten days or so, a massive amount of new potholes have sprung up all over the NYC metro area -- from the very beginning of my commute in midtown Manhattan (anybody driven down West 53rd Street between 8th and 9th avenues recently?), all the way up Riverside Drive (watch out heading north between 135th and 136th street, and don't forget the one in the right lane between 146th and 147th either, both of which are real doozies), and even at various places all through Westchester. Unfortunately, this includes the ginormous sinkhole that has recently appeared right on my drive home in New Rochelle, where my front passenger side tire took one on the chin on my way home from the office on Monday evening. This is the third time I have nailed this same pothole over the past week, getting me to the point of having already memorized that it is exactly 20.5 miles from my parking garage in a vain attempt to try to remember to avoid it, but some nights when I've had a long day at work there is just nothing that can get me to remember every single pothole that has popped up along my normal commuting route. Monday was just such a night. As I felt the right side of my car sink I immediately knew everything that was about to happen. My first two jousts with this big bad void in the street had left my car more or less unscathed, but this was an absolute direct hit and I was going the full speed limit when I ran over this hole in the road head-on. Blammo, and within seconds it was obvious that my tire was flat. You could tell just from the sound, in fact. I knew I was flat even before the tire pressure light came on on the dash.

Lucky for me, this happened sufficiently close to my house, and the tire was not completely shredded, that I was able to hobble home going 10 miles an hour and park in my driveway before replacing the tire later that night, which was a great comfort. But what a pain in the ass. And where the hell have all these potholes come from all of a sudden anyways?

Well, I have my answer. In a nutshell, about a week and a half ago we had a strange winter storm all across the mid-Atlantic, and NY Metro in particular got a strange mix of weather as most of the area was right on the rain/snow line for much of the first day of the storm, before temperatures dropped and more than a foot of fresh snow fell during the second day to blanket the entire area. But on that first day, we had a very strange pattern of snow for a couple hours in the morning, then rain for a couple of hours, then snow for 30 minutes or so, then more rain for a couple of hours, then more snow, and then more rain, before it all finally switched over to snow for the next 18 hours or so straight. And with all that rain falling, the water seeps into the cracks in the pavement that makes up the roads. Then that water freezes when the temps drop, expanding the cracks in the road, and then eventually the ice melts and the water evaporates, eliminating the moisture but leaving the gaping cracks behind.

So really, a pothole is just science more than anything else. It's geology in action. A pothole isn't some horrible entity that brings doom and gloom to all who dare come before it.

Somebody's gonna have to tell that to my poor, brand new car though.

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Blogger The Monster Stack said...

Yep, I live in Brooklyn and I feel your pain (well, my car feels your car's pain). It happens every winter but it feels a bit worse this year, obviously a result of the extra snow/rain/sleet/etc that we had this year. Some streets in my neighborhood are nearly completely torn up and will need to be repaved. Every couple of summers they slap down some new asphalt rather than fill the pot holes.

5:09 PM  

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