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Union Leader: Pothole Season Proves Need for Brick to Have In-House Paving Crew

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The following letter to the editor was submitted by John Menshon, a Brick Township resident who serves as president of the Transport Workers Union Local 225, Branch 4. He also serves on the Brick Township Planning Board.

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A crew fills pot holes on a road in Wall Township. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A crew fills pot holes on a road in Wall Township. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

According to a report released last year by (AAA), potholes cost Americans 6.4 billion dollars a year. There are good reasons why drivers cringe at the sound of that loud bang, that jolt that feels like it would knock the dental fillings right out of your mouth .We cringe because we know auto repair can be very expensive. A State Farm Insurance study shows that repairs to your vehicle to fix the damage caused by hitting a pothole can cost you, on average, from $300 to $700 dollars. Depending on the vehicle, these costs can be much higher. Many of today’s vehicles have alloy wheels which can cost up to $500 each to replace. What’s worse? The damage isn’t isolated to only the rims and tires. Potholes can destroy the whole undercarriage of your vehicle. Shocks and struts, rack and pinions, steering and suspension components, are often damaged by the hard impact of hitting a pothole. Depending on how deep the crater is, punctures to the radiator, transmission pan, and oil pan may occur as well.

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Road resurfacing is the only long term solution to this problem. Failed patch repairs and potholes are too costly for us drivers. Patches are bumpy and dangerous and are only a “make do fix”. Patches temporally fill the voids, but, patches will inevitably fall apart again.  Every town should have a long term solution to address cracks and potholes, the answer is to have an in-house paving program in place to resurface roadways that are beyond repair.

What causes a pothole? Freeze-thaw cycles, vehicles, and salt are the main reasons asphalt breaks apart and subsequently creates a pothole. Water from snow or rain seeps into the soil below the road surface. The water freezes when the temperature drops, causing the soil to expand and push up the pavement. When temperature’s warm up the soil returns to normal level, but the pavement remains raised. The hollow gap that was created now gets smashed by a vehicle driving over it and the pavement falls apart. Eventually all the pieces pop out and we are left with a costly crater.

Resurfacing roadways eliminates the chance of new potholes for many years because there are no cracks for water to seep under the road way. The first step in road resurfacing is called milling, which is grinding away the old top layer. After sweeping, a sticky layer of tack coat is then applied, which helps the new asphalt to stick the surface. The paving machines will then lay down a fresh new layer of asphalt. Lastly, roller equipment is used to compress and smooth out the new layer. The result is a new, smooth, black road surface that will be free of potholes for many years to come.

Many municipalities, including Toms River, Collingswood, Clifton, and Florham Park have their own paving crews. That’s because it has been determined by studies, like those on “In the public interest.org” that ”in-house” is a more cost effective way to deliver services.

Let’s see our tax dollars put to good use. In the past, here in Brick, we used to have an in-house paving program, most of the workers were residents of Brick themselves and they really took pride in their work. Residents would often commend the workers for a job well done. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, and administrative decisions, we no longer have an in-house paving program. Reestablishing an in-house paving program could save residents thousands of dollars in auto repair bills. It is my understanding that we still have the skillsets and experienced personnel needed, furthermore, we still possess most of the necessary equipment and it’s in serviceable condition, so let’s put it back to use. According to Wikipedia, the Municipality of Brick maintains 256 miles of road way. Over 1,700 streets! Many of these roads are in disrepair, cracked, broken and filled with potholes.

We must invest in Bricks infrastructure to ensure safe roadways for our children. Spring will be here soon, now is the time to act! We must invest in Public Works, refurbish, and/or buy the necessary equipment, and once again start resurfacing Bricks roads with new, smooth, asphalt.

Please join me and call, write, or email the Mayor and Council, implore them to resurface our roads, and reestablish a paving program at Brick Public Works.