Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) maintenance crews continue to smooth out a lot of pothole problems on the interstates.
The recent rough patch is in stark contrast to the reputation Tennessee built over much of the last decade. Overdrive Magazine's annual poll of truckers routinely ranked Tennessee as one of top three states in the country for road conditions. It also ranked Interstate 40 through Tennessee as the best road in the nation.
Overdrive stopped conducting the national poll in 2010, which may be fortunate timing because this year's weather has created a bumpy ride. This winter was one of the wettest on record in Tennessee. Rainfall totals in Knoxville were more than eight inches above average. The National Weather Service says temperatures this March have also been six degrees colder than average.
"With the drastic changes in weather like we've had, you can go from 70 degrees one day to below freezing the next. And that certainly opens up the possibility of getting more potholes," said TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi.
The freezes and thaws have caused a bit of havoc on the highways. Until the weather warms up and asphalt production resumes, the only patching TDOT can do is a temporary fix known as "throw and go."
"They basically run out there [in the middle of the interstate], clean up the hole, patch it quick, and then get out of the way. It is actually very dangerous work that our folks are doing. So we ask people driving in this area to take their time and give them enough room to do their jobs," said Nagi.
Nagi said asphalt plants will being opening up in April and May. Then crews will be able to apply a more permanent resurfacing to the cratered surface.
If you need to report a pothole on a road maintained by TDOT, you call the East Tennessee Regional Office at 865-594-2403 or e-mail TDOT.Comments@tn.gov. TDOT's community relations personnel say all e-mails will be responded to within three days.
Drivers can also file a claim with the state's treasury department for pothole damage. A claim for damage requires a written notice of facts with the Division of Claims Administration. Full details can be found at this link to the Tennessee Claims Commission's website.