GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) – In West Michigan, it seems as soon as one pothole is fixed another one appears. This year's winter has been bad on the roads leaving a lot of drivers frustrated.
Jerry Bryne of the Kent County Rd. Commission understands why people would be frustrated. "A lady told me that this is the fourth time she has reported the pothole, but over the course of three weeks we have fixed it six times." When the temperatures drop there is no easy or permanent solution for fixing potholes.
What they do have is cold patch, a mix of stone and tar that is a temporary solution designed for cold temperatures, and on busy streets, ""We hope it is going to last a week, reality is it is it might only last a couple of days," explains Bryne.
Cold patch comes at a price: when crews aren't plowing the road commission has 28 to 30 people filling holes during the day and up to eight people at night. "Add the cost of the truck and the cost of the labor, add the cost of the blacktop which is $100 a ton roughly, that means a pothole costs about 16 to 20 dollars to fill," explains Byrne.
Driving down a 200 foot stretch of Post drive near U.S. 131 we counted 25 potholes. If it costs $20 dollars a pothole with 25 holes needing to be filled six times, that means $3,000 spent just on 200 feet.
In the summer the patch they use is more permanent. It also costs nearly double but it lasts 10 times longer. Another solution is to replace the worse roads, but that is expensive.
Most of the money to fix the roads comes from vehicle registration fees and the gas tax, but the gas tax hasn't changed since the 1990s. What has changed is our cars have become more fuel efficient. Using less gas means we pay less tax. The average Michigan driver is contributing $20 less a year than they did 20 years ago, Byrne says.
Governor Snyder is pushing for money to fix the roads, but right now with the roads they way they are, "We will be fixing potholes through June," explains Byrne.