If it appears more motorists are traveling left of center recently, it is probably not from having one too many drinks before getting behind the wheel.
It's more likely they are trying to dodge large potholes covering many Ohio Valley roads as local road crews attempt to keep up with the holes left behind by this winter's harsh temperatures, snow and ice. In Wheeling, Public Works Director Russell Jebbia said his street crews already are working to patch the numerous potholes that have formed across the city.
"I've never seen it as bad as this. This is one of the worst years we've ever had," Jebbia said. "It's not just here but our whole region. With the weather we've had, it's taken a toll on the roads. ... I don't think there's a street in town that doesn't have potholes in it. ... U.S. 40 and W.Va. 88 really took a hit this year."
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Patching potholes Monday on Lynwood Avenue in Wheeling are Public Works employees Bill Henry, left, and Jim Manning.
Since asphalt plants do not operate during the winter, cold patch - a mixture of tar and aggregate that works much like a glue but doesn't last as long as hot asphalt - must be used instead. City workers first must clean out and dry the hole before placing the mixture inside of it and tamping it down.
"That's all we have to work with right now. Some of it will stay, but the majority of it will come back out over time," Jebbia said.
Jebbia said he has heard of some cities reusing their cinders swept up off the street that were used during snowfall. But before it can be used, the cinders have to be cleaned or separated from dirt, debris and other material on the road.
Wheeling, he said, does not have that capability.
"It's too hard on the spreader units. I've seen it done in magazines - they take it to a plant and run it through screens to take the dirt out and clean the cinders to use again. But by the time we're done using them, there are leaves and all kinds of stuff in it," Jebbia said.