With all this Frost, I Can’t Drive 25!
During the winter the ground freezes and creates frost.
Freezing water is one of the greatest forces of nature. It cracks solid rock and shapes mountains and landscapes across the world and even on other planets.
Probably most impressive is that frost can slow down Boston drivers! Even in the city most of us can’t drive 25!
When moisture freezes beneath pavement it expands and creates pockets of ice called lenses. This creates what we call “frost heaves”.
These frost heaves create bumps, humps and dips in our streets and roads.
As long as these ice lenses remain frozen we have frost heaves.
When the ice thaws and leaves gaps beneath the surface, we begin to have bigger problems.
Pothole season is essentially all winter. Water under the road freezes when the ground freezes and we get frost heaves.
On any winter day when the sun is strong enough to raise the road temperature above freezing those ice lenses begin to melt.
When gaps created by expanding frost melt, the pavement cannot support the weight of traffic.
All winter roads thaw and re-freeze. With each cycle the pavement is heaved by frost and then becomes unstable as those ice pockets melt.
As traffic drives over these weakened areas the pavement collapses and we get our winter batch of potholes.
Spring into Pothole Season
I don’t know if we spring into pothole season or fall into it, but it is as inevitable as the changing of the seasons.
This year the winter pothole season seems worse than usual and I can only imagine what spring will be like.
As the spring thaw sets in all of the heaved pavement weakens and breaks up. Potholes pop up like crocuses. But they last a lot longer!
The weather hasn’t been that unusual in New England. And according to AAA people are driving 13% fewer miles.
Maybe instead of driving to work, people are spending more time driving around town?
I Can’t Drive 25!
I have been doing my fair share of local driving.
There are a few roads near my house that I drive on almost every day and they are a mess.
One road is called “Commercial Street” which is very appropriate. There are many businesses and warehouse on this street. At the beginning of the street is a Budweiser warehouse.
They must send out 50 to 100 beer trucks every day. 100 fully loaded trucks go out every morning and 100 still very heaving beer trucks come back every afternoon.
In addition to the beer trucks, every sort of heavy commercial vehicle uses this road every day. Not to mention several thousand cars.
I Can’t Drive Straight
Commercial Street is so bad that it often feels like I’m driving on a slalom ski course.
Some drivers move to the sides of the road. The parking lanes get less traffic, have fewer potholes and you are less likely to bend a rim.
When cars are parked on the side of the road, you have to take your chances.
I see people weaving around potholes they see and often hitting ones they cannot.
I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing where the potholes are, but I have to pay close attention. If I loose focus for even a moment I will hit a pothole that I should have missed.
It’s virtually impossible to miss all of them.
Inevitably there are new potholes that weren’t there the last time and BAM! I can just see my tire compressing right down to the rim.
I’ve done enough work on my car that I know what all the suspension parts look like. I can visualize what is going on when ever I hit one of these car killers.
Many times when I turn onto Commercial Street the cars in front of me slow down. Sometimes I think they are going to pull into a business, but they are just looking for the path least likely to bend their frame!
It’s pretty funny to see an approaching car move to the side of the road. It looks like they are pulling into a parking spot, but they are just trying to drive down the road.
Others drive slalom. I often wonder if the police would ever pull these people over for weaving in traffic or crossing the center line. I’ve driven down the middle of Commercial Street many times to avoid the worse potholes.
It’s gotten to the point that if a car moves to the side of the road the car behind them doesn’t even try to pass. They know what is going on. They also know that driving faster than 25 could damage their own car.
The roads in Boston and Cambridge are no better. When a car drives by sounding like a trawler, I wonder if they paid for that noise or if they are going to pay for that damage.
I’ve considered buying an off-road truck, but I don’t think any vehicle could stand up to this punishment.
Around here, I can’t drive 25 mph and neither can anyone else!
Drive Safely My Friends!