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Warm Weather Potholes Mar the Path

When Beth Rouse's van tossed and pitched after hitting a pothole, she thought she was having a flashback to last winter. Although it's been weeks since the last freezing temperatures, roads around the area are pocked with potholes.

"I just went through a huge one," Rouse said. "You usually see it more in the winter."

Along Rolling Road, Nancy Groenert knows how to avoid the potholes on that stretch of road.

"I know which side of the street to be on," she said.

In the warm weather, the freeze-and-thaw pothole forces are not at work, but the rain is doing it's best to fill in the void. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) spokesperson, Ryan Hall, the water is still at work.

"Water can seep in and undermine the dirt and form sink holes," he said.

Over the winter, VDOT spent over $100 million fighting the snow and put in around 14,000 patches to fill the holes, according to Hall. Most of those were temporary patches or "cold patches," and the plan was to go back and put a permanent "hot patch" on them when the weather allowed.

"Those weren't permanent patches," Hall said of the early efforts.

The hot patches require more of an effort, which includes a jack-hammer and steam roller. In the normal spring, this would have been in the April-May time frame, but not this year. Flooding and rainfall have shifted VDOT's responsibilities, so the potholes will have to wait.

"Last month [May] it rained 22 out of 31 days. We can't patch when it's raining. This has been a very odd season. We'll be repairing potholes all summer," Hall said.

On Thursday, June 19, there were six roads closed due to rain putting a strain on VDOT's manpower, Hall said. Although there is still money in VDOT's maintenance budget, it doesn’t have enough people, so it prioritizes. Aesthetics are the last thing to get done, Hall said. Flooded-out gravel roads in Loudoun County are just one of their concerns.

"During the inclement weather, the priorities change," she said.

Rouse does give VDOT credit, though. The pothole at the corner of Old Keene Mill Road and Hunter Village Drive is one to avoid.

"I also see them getting repaired, too. That one used to be deeper," she said.

Gloria Ekrem's road in Keene Mill Station used to be full of potholes. It wasn't forgotten by VDOT, though.

"Last week, they resurfaced the whole road," she said.