Pothole Season Begins in Michigan – What to Expect
Anyone who lives in Michigan will tell you, the potholes are no joke! They can be so bad that Michigan residents will sometimes replace the word 'Spring' with the term 'Pothole Season.'
Why are they so bad in Michigan? There is not just one clear answer. Many say it's due to the rapid change in temperature, causing the asphalt to expand and contract too often, leading to breakage. But if that's the case, why do the roads suddenly look pristine when you cross the border into Ohio, who get basically the same crazy weather we do? There's more to the story.
Over the 50+ years I have lived in Michigan, I've heard those who live in regions where potholes are few and far between say things like: "Just avoid them," "Drive around them," or my personal favorite: "Just avoid the roads with potholes."
What people fail to realize is that, although all of the above suggestions seem simple and valid, when it's April in Michigan and there's a crater in the road every few feet, avoiding them just isn't possible.
Typical Michigan Roads in the Spring
For example, the following image is a great example of what to expect from Michigan pothole season.
Sometimes it looks more like this.
Or the worst of them all, the water-filled potholes. The scariest thing about these is that they could be 1 inch deep, 1 foot deep, or sinkhole deep.
These types of areas make pothole avoidance tricky, if not impossible. And these aren't extreme examples either. Some even live on these roads and have to navigate them every time they leave the house.
What Is the Plan For 2023?
The Manchester Mirror said it best in 2022 when they presented the headline: 'It's Pothole Season, and Michigan's are among the nation's worst, study finds.'
It went on to say that according to Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson Tim Fischer, Michigan spends $6 million to $7 million a year to fill about 400,000 potholes. And this is in addition to the ones that counties and local communities fix.
A report from WWJ claimed that pothole damage cost Michigan drivers $26.5 billion in 2021. And a 2022 report from MLive claimed that poor Michigan road conditions accounted for approximately $4,845 in expenses a year for an average Michigan household. That cost is set to rise to over $6,000 in the next 10 years if action is not taken.
And at least some action has been taken, as according to a press release from Governor Gretchen Whitmer in March 2022, an executive directive has been signed to 'speed up pothole repair.'
I can say from personal experience that I have not noticed a difference in the number of repaired potholes since then. But, for the sake of our vehicles, I sure hope that 2023's pothole season brings a noticeable difference to Michigan.