Potholes on Nantucket
Each winter low temperatures and heavy winter storms hit our island. After the storm clean up our roads are suddenly plagued with many potholes. This page was created to explain how potholes are created, fixed, and reported.
Potholes are very common, particularly in New England, and are virtually impossible to prevent. Although most commonly associated with cold weather, potholes can also form in warm climates. A roadway pothole is a deterioration of an asphalt surface caused by the presence of water in the underlying soil structure and the presence of traffic passing over the affected area. Introduction of water to the underlying soil structure first weakens the supporting soil. Traffic then fatigues and breaks the poorly supported asphalt surface in the affected area. Continued traffic action ejects both asphalt and the underlying soil material to create a hole in the pavement.
How we fix potholes
There are two methods of patching potholes, hot mix and cold mix. “Cold patch”, or cold asphalt, is the temporary remedy to fix potholes during cold weather. The Town uses it throughout the island on asphalt surfaces only during the winter months. Cold patch is a polymer technology that is soft and sticky out of the bag, but quickly hardens after application. The end result is a temporary pavement patch with good adhering properties, but only useful during the winter when hot asphalt is not available.
Cold patch is also very expensive. It costs approximately $200/ton and it also has constraints: 1) it requires special handling, 2) needs to be kept covered, 3) it must be stored under cover to retain its adhesive properties, and 4) it tends to leak oils at certain temperatures. As a result, the Town does not “just cold patch everything" but rather applies this solution where and when appropriate.
When will the potholes be fixed?
Like most towns in the State, Nantucket has a spring pothole repair program because of the beating that the roads take during the winter. This is part of DPW’s regular seasonal maintenance program. Roadways cannot be permanently fixed in the middle of winter because asphalt cannot be placed unless the temperature is 45°F and rising and the pothole is clear of any standing water and debris. As a result, the most effective pothole repair programs start when we can be certain that temperatures will consistently stay above 45°F so that we can head out and patch non-stop. All of this is weather dependent!
How can I report a pothole?
There are many ways citizens can get involved to report potholes, road debris and other safety issues:
- Call DPW at 508-228-7244 and a traceable work order will be created, or
- Report via this website.