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Potholes, seasonal weight restrictions return

Seasonal weight restrictions are returning to West Michigan and that means pothole season is as well! Meteorologist Michael Behrens explains why.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The spring thaw is knocking on our door here in West Michigan, and that means another yearly menace is also set to return...potholes. 

These two phenomena go hand in hand due to the nature of roads and how water expands when it freezes, but there are some things that we can do to help limit the damage. One such set of measures is the seasonal weight and speed limits for commercial trucks that are now starting to come into effect for this year. 

These restrictions limit the speed and maximum weight of commercial trucks on certain roads during the spring months when they are most vulnerable to damage. The image below explains what these restrictions entail. 

Credit: Michael Behrens
Here's what seasonal weight & speed restrictions mean for commercial trucks.

So far only one county in West Michigan, Van Buren, has an active restriction, but that is soon set to change. Starting Tuesday March 1st, another 7 counties will see seasonal restrictions go into effect. 

These numbers are as reported to 13 On Your Side on 2/24/2022 at 5 pm. You can find an updated map of restrictions state wide AT THIS LINK. 

Credit: Michael Behrens
The current seasonal weight and speed restrictions for West Michigan. Pending restrictions start March 1.

As stated above, the goal of these measures is to limit the impact of potholes during the thawing season. So, just how do potholes form and why do more of them form during the spring?

It all starts when water seeps through cracks in the road and gets trapped underneath. During winter this water freezes and expands, combining with pressure from traffic above, to damage the road surface. 

During warmer and drier weather, typically starting in spring, this water/ice melts and evaporates. This leaves a void under the road surface that can then be depressed and further damaged by normal traffic. 

The longer the pothole is left open the more of an issue it will become. Fast moving and heavy trucks can cause extra damage to roads while they are in this weakened state, thus leading to the need for seasonal weight and speed restrictions on such vehicles. 

Speaking of thawing weather, there are some much warmer days ahead in the forecast, so make sure you stick with 13 On Your Side for the very latest details! 

RELATED: 13 On Your Side Forecast: Overnight Snow; Sunny Weekend

-- Meteorologist Michael Behrens

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