The Township’s priority is arterial streets--larger streets that carry the heaviest volumes of traffic. A repair on an arterial street that carries tens of thousands of vehicles daily will take priority over a residential street that carries far fewer vehicles. However, all potholes are important to us, and every pothole reported will be fixed.
Is every dip, crack or break in the street considered a pothole?
No. There are different kinds of pavement problems which require different solutions. Potholes are typically irregularly shaped holes of varying depths. Sinking pavement adjacent to a manhole or catch basin is usually a cave-in that requires reconstruction by the Public Works Department. Square or rectangular pavement problems are often failed utility cuts created when contractors dig into the street. In those cases, the Township requires contractors to fix the problem at no cost to the taxpayers. Citizens needn’t know the difference to make a report--the issue will be referred to the appropriate department. Regardless of the cause of the pavement problem, the Township is committed to fixing the problem as quickly as possible.
What is the solution to potholes?
The long-term solution to potholes is to repave or reconstruct the street. Potholes will not usually form on pavement that is in good condition, that keeps water out from under the pavement, and that is designed for the type of traffic that uses it.
What causes a pothole?
Potholes occur when street pavement cracks and breaks because of water or traffic.
Water can get under the pavement through cracks or from the side of the road. Over time, the water can cause the material under the pavement to erode, causing the pavement to sink down and break. During the winter, the water under the pavement can freeze and expand, and then thaw and contract. This freeze/thaw cycle can cause the pavement to crack so that it deteriorates quickly under the weight of traffic, and then streets can seem to break out in potholes overnight.
Traffic that is too heavy for the pavement’s design can result in cracks. Large volumes of traffic or heavy trucks and buses using a street not designed for this load can cause the pavement to crack and break apart.
Where do we report when there is a pothole?
Depends on its location:
609-588-6212 for State roads: Rt. 27 and Route 287
908-541-5021 for Somerset County roads: Easton Avenue, Elizabeth Avenue, Manville Causeway, Kingston-Rocky Hill Road, Andover Road, Franklin Boulevard, Amwell Road, Bunker Hill Road, Blackwells Mills Road (Canal to River Road), Canal Road (Griggstown Causeway to Bunker Hill Road), Griggstown Causeway, South Middlebush Road, Weston Canal Road, Laurel Avenue, Old Road, Cedar Grove Lane, Land Lane, Hamilton Street, Route 518, Claremont Road
732-249-7800 (Public Works Department) for the remaining local roads, or use the following on-line LINK, so we can repair them quickly.
How do I know if what I am reporting can be repaired as a pothole or not?
We don’t expect everyone to be able to distinguish among pavement defects. We encourage you to report any type of pavement defect that is of concern to you, especially if it appears hazardous. If we can’t make an immediate repair, we may be able to repair it later. If needed, we will block off the area to maintain safety.
The Township says it fills potholes promptly, but the pothole is still there. What’s going on?
There are several reasons why we may not have made the repair you requested:
Weather conditions have created a backlog: There are seasonal variations in the amount of new potholes that are created. When there is a significant backlog, the Township will put extra crews on the job of filling potholes until the backlog is gone.
Can’t find the pothole: Sometimes we are given insufficient information or there may be a car parked over the pothole when we arrive, hiding it from view. If we have the name and telephone number of the person who reported the pothole, we call for a better description of the location.
Utility cuts: Some of the potholes reported are the responsibilities of other parties to fill. The agencies or private contractors who dig into the street to work on underground utilities must either repair the street pavement or pay the Township to make the final, permanent repair. If the "utility cut" is not properly repaired, the area of the excavation can sink, leaving what can appear to be a pothole. When these are reported, we may require the utility to return and correct the paving.
Utility covers: When entrances to underground utilities become worn, the owners of the utility must repair cracked or damaged pavement around the rim.
Railroad Tracks: The Township is not allowed to work within three feet of railroad tracks. This area must be repaired by the railroad. Repairs in the area we are responsible for within 25 feet of railroad tracks may take longer because we have to coordinate with the railroad.
Off to the side of the road: Sometimes a pothole forms off to the side of the roadway, especially when drainage is inadequate and the area is used for parking. These areas are usually the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to maintain. When a street is fully improved, these areas include a planting strip, sidewalk, and curb. A DPW inspector can verify if the pothole is in the part of the right of way that is the responsibility of the property owner.
Can’t be repaired as a pothole: Some defects that are reported as potholes are really some other kind of problem that can’t be repaired as a pothole. Sometimes it is a rough or rutted surface of a road that needs to be repaved or totally rebuilt from the base to the surface. Other times it is a void or sink-hole, a crumbled street edge, or pavement with layers of asphalt that have become separated (delaminated), or a long fissure or crack. Defects in these streets cannot be fixed as a pothole. While most defects can be repaired, it may take longer, and some processes, such as crack sealing are only done in the summer. If there is a safety hazard, the Township crews will set barricades around the problem area or they may close a lane.
You filled a pothole, but a few days later, there it was again. Why don’t your repairs last longer?
The material used to patch potholes doesn’t stick as well to the surrounding pavement when it is cold or wet, so repairs made in the winter may not last as long as on dry, warm pavement. We can’t wait for dry weather to fill potholes, however, because we must maintain safety. In late December and the beginning of January, asphalt plants are closed, and hot asphalt is not available. Instead, during these weeks, we use a “cold mix.” Pothole repairs made under adverse conditions may not last as long, but the potholes still need to be filled for reasons of safety.
If the cause of the pothole is not corrected, such as water getting under the pavement, pothole patches may fail, or more potholes will continue to form. The long-term solution is to repave the street, and in some cases, to reconstruct the street from the ground up, and from curb to curb. Potholes are also temporary repairs. That said, some pothole repairs last longer than others.
Why are there so many potholes in our streets?
You can expect to see more potholes in the winter and spring, following periods of cold temperatures and rain or snow. Many streets, particularly in the outer areas of the city have a very poor underlying structure, or sub base, which reacts poorly to these conditions. The asphalt heaves upward as the water under the road and in small cracks freezes and expands.