PORTLAND – The recent winter storm that slammed the Portland metro area with snow, ice and then rain also carved hundreds of potholes into area roads.
For drivers, there's not a lot of warning. They’ll be cruising along, when all of a sudden, there's a big thump or bump. It's a pothole.
“They are very big and you can feel it. So if you go fast, wow! Be careful, you know," said driver Jose Garcia.
Damage to vehicles caused by the potholes can be costly. Car mechanics said some repairs cost thousands of dollars.
When asked if it takes a very deep pothole to cause damage, Steve Bergdorf with Tom Dwyer Automotive Services remarked, “Yeah, it has got to be substantial, pretty substantial. I'd say more than three or four inches deep before it will do any damage. But they're everywhere."
The City of Portland's Pothole Hotline has received more than 150 calls in February alone. Road crews are working as quickly as they can to patch the problem spots.
They explained that during the recent storms, water leaked through cracks in the pavement and then seeped into the base layer of gravel and soil. When that water froze, it expanded, moving the soil. Then, as cars rolled over the pavement in a weakened spot, the pavement cracked and gave way.
"The storms have gone at this point, but the potholes are left behind,” said Don Hamilton with the Oregon Department of Transportation. “Maybe we'll get more. We don't know what winter will bring us."
In many cases, the roads were already in bad condition and the winter weather just aggravated and revealed their hidden problems.