Pizza and potholes

By Jacob Butt

Potholes…the bane of drivers around the world. A 2018 estimate conducted by AAA estimates that potholes cost American drivers over $3 billion per year. That equates to almost $300 per person each year. The damage can range from simple tire punctures to much more costly and timely suspension repairs.

So, what is a pothole, how is it caused, how do we repair it, and how does it relate to pizza?

“MS-16 Asphalt in Pavement Preservation and Maintenance”, written by the Asphalt Institute, provides a definition of a pothole: “A bowl-shaped hole caused by localized disintegration of the pavement surface.”

The manual provides insight into the cause, “Potholes are typically caused by the continued deterioration of another type of distress, such as thawing of a frozen subgrade, cracking, raveling or a failed patch after pieces of the original pavement surface have been dislodged. Poor surface mixtures, weak spots in the base or subgrade, or the severity of the surrounding distress accelerate potholes.”

As mentioned above, the key to pothole prevention is good maintenance, but once the hole is formed the problem must be fixed. One solution for fixing a pothole is spray injection patching. Spray injection pothole patching was first introduced in the 1980s as an alternative to conventional methods. The early machines were not very efficient or operator-friendly. However, the modern machines of today have come a long way and spray injection is now one preferred method of repair.

Spray injection patching is a complete cold in place delivery system. The beauty of the system is everything is self-contained to one truck and some models even allow the operators to perform the repairs remotely from inside the cab of the truck.

The first step is to clean and prepare the pothole for the repairs. The equipment utilizes high volume low-pressure air to blow out debris and remove any moisture from the void.

The next step is to apply a tack coat to the damaged area; this step helps seal out the moisture. Next, the hole is filled with a mixture of rock and emulsion. With a variety of emulsions currently available on the market, it is critical that the proper material is selected for a particular job.

The final step is the application of a dry coat. The light coating of dry aggregate works as a blotting agent to keep vehicles from picking up the newly laid material. Once the final step is completed, the road is ready for service.

Pothole patching has come a long way in the past 30 years, from buckets and shovels to automated machinery, sadly though the problem still remains. It is now such a mainstream problem for Americans, Domino’s Pizza has even joined in on the fight.

In a recent marketing campaign, Domino’s Pizza launched, a website designed to promote pizza and pothole repairs. They claim they won’t stop repairing potholes until they have repaired at least one pothole in all 50 states.

With the potential for better equipment and materials in the future, the solution to one of our biggest road maintenance concerns might just be delivered by the pizza boy.

Butt is the Supply Manager and Junior Partner at Pioneer Oil, LLC in Billings, Montana.