In the District, transportation officials said they have gotten twice as many service requests in January to fix potholes than at the same time last year. Terry Owens, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, said in an email that the city has received 776 requests to fix potholes.
Officials in Northern Virginia and Maryland said they are also seeing high numbers of potholes. Transportation officials said heavy rain in the D.C. region last year — a record-setting 71 inches in 2018 — is a big reason.
“The ground is saturated and is causing more potholes,” said Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for Maryland’s Department of Transportation. “With the recent cold snap and a subsequent warm-up, we are anticipating more calls in the coming days.”
Potholes happen after moisture gets under asphalt and concrete. It collects and freezes, causing the pavement to expand. The weight of vehicles puts pressure on the road, and when temperatures rise and the ice thaws, the pavement contracts and forms a pothole.
In Maryland, transportation officials routinely repair potholes on major roads such as Interstate 95, the Capital Beltway and U.S. 50 and after winter storms. Hitting potholes can alter a vehicle’s alignment and cause traffic disruptions as vehicles try to avoid them.
Potholes are “showing up a bit earlier this year due to the extremely variable temperatures in the region,” Gischlar said. “Getting below freezing one day and warmer the next day.”
He said crews are working to keep roads maintained and are making “every effort to fill potholes that are reported by customers within one business day, depending on weather and quantity.” On busy highways, the work to repair potholes is often completed overnight.
Northern Virginia officials said they are also seeing an increase in potholes because of heavy rain and winter weather.
One spot that has been particularly bad is Arlington Memorial Bridge. D.C. officials said the biggest number of requests to fix potholes have been in Wards 3 and 7.
Owens said the D.C. Transportation Department has improved its ability to repair potholes after buying equipment that allows crews to be more efficient in their repairs. City crews have closed about 11,000 service requests to fix potholes in the past 12 months, the agency said.