Thursday, March 12, 2009

Frost Heave or "A Pothole is Formed"

OMG the roads are getting worse by the day. Now that we're having some warmer days, from 8 degrees to the low 40's, the weather has turned alternately from snow to rain and back to snow. It's a confused climate and patches of bare ground are starting to show through.

Frost heave is a problem here. In particular types of soil the moisture freezes and the underlying water is drawn up toward the frozen soil and freezes causing a lens shaped ice dome. This buildup of ice forces the soil up into mounds. When this happens under the roadway, look out for a bumpy ride! Some areas of roadway actually have "frost heave" signs to warn of the impending roller coaster ride, but mostly you just come upon it unawares. On a country jaunt up by Augusta I've experienced miles of roller coaster roadway that demand a slower pace to avoid being bounced out of the driver's seat. In other places it is just a spot in the road that catches your attention.

When the ice of a frost heave melts, the soil subsides again. If this happens under the pavement it cracks and breaks the asphalt and with the repeated beating of traffic soon chunks of the bituminous material break away and a pothole is formed. Surprisingly quickly, a pothole develops into an alignment wreaking deep hole and one must be alert to steer clear of them. As the road department tries to keep up with repairs, soon sections of road are a series of patches which are just as bumpy as the original frost heaves.

Mainers don't even notice, but to me its just another example of expensive and labor intensive problems of living in the northern latitudes. I just don't know how to weigh these things against the most beautiful summers and falls imaginable.

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