Taos County drivers beware, potholes ahead

People endure road problems from long, harsh winter

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 3/22/19

With the constant barrage of rain and snow in Taos County, residents are beginning to feel the effects a wet winter has on an aging road system.Potholes in Taos have …

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Taos County drivers beware, potholes ahead

People endure road problems from long, harsh winter

Posted

With the constant barrage of rain and snow in Taos County, residents are beginning to feel the effects a wet winter has on an aging road system.

Potholes in Taos have become all too frequent on roads in the area, causing some two-lane roads to be reduced to one lane of driving surface.

"I think it's a danger, and people are driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid the potholes," said Taos County resident Cyndi Gonzales. "It's a big issue. If you have people swerving, it's just an accident waiting to happen."

Gonzales said her neighbors regularly band together to pour rocks, dirt and other materials just to patch up the holes temporarily.

Constant rain and moisture are to blame, but many in the area are looking to government officials to try and keep up with the potholes that have caused a number of drivers to swerve perilously to avoid them.

"What we're trying to do is make sure we prepare ourselves with enough material to be able to repair those potholes," said Taos County Commission Chair Mark Gallegos. "The [crews] try to address them if they're really deep and if there's going to be a significant impact."

While not a major issue in his district, Gallegos said he still gets calls and emails from concerned citizens about the roads and their conditions. Despite the numerous calls, Gallegos said the county is trying its best to keep up.

Potholes occur when moisture seeps under the surface of a road and builds up in a particular area. The area dries and leaves a soft patch of material where packed asphalt used to be. Once a car drives over it, the area crumbles and the hole is created. Roads new and old can be subject to these pesky holes and they can pop up as soon as a rainstorm passes and the water dries.

According to Pavement Interactive, a collaboration between state transportation departments, potholes are more common in roads with a one- to two-inch surface thickness.

In order to fix the holes, crews have to clean out the area, cut an even shape around the hole and heat the area in order to bond the oil with the new material. A new mix of asphalt is laid in the hole and stamped down to road level.

Gonzales said the holes are often improperly filled by crews who are in a rush to repair the roads. Her ideal solution would be for crews to take the time and do the job right the first time rather than do a quick patch-over.

Gallegos agrees. "To do it right, you have to take the time," Gallegos said. "It takes half an hour to fix a pothole."

Although he was unable to give exact figures of materials, Gallegos said with a three-man crew, the work would start at costing the county between $28 and $30 per hour.

Some in town feel the issue can be solved without burdening the government for supplies and time and are asking the community to pitch in.

Facebook user Brian Adams commented on a Taos News post calling for community collaboration to fix the holes.

"With all of the hardworking people in this county with trucks, I wonder why we do not use local, temporary contract laborers to help fill the potholes," he said. "It's not rocket science, and our citizens could sure use the funds. Pay them per pothole and assign them an area."

County officials could not comment on the legality of filling a pothole without supervision but Gallegos said he would not be against it as long as the hole was not in the middle of a road where traffic would be blocked and someone could be injured.

Others on Facebook weighed in with colorful descriptions of the potholes they encountered. Hope Potter Chavez posted: "The road thru Arroyo Seco on the way to Taos Ski Valley is a pit to bathe your pig in."

"I caught my fish limit there the other day," chimed in Jose Valencia, apparently about the same potholes.

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