Life’s a bit bumpier with potholes, no doubt about it, and personnel are encouraged to report them to the Public Works Department. But while Public Works does their best to keep up with the situation, pothole repair is multifaceted and may not always be the quick fix you’d like it to be.
“We do a yearly pothole project that’s automatically put on the NAS Patuxent River Commanding Officer’s Maintenance Execution Plan for which he budgets money every year and we’ll bundle pothole repairs together for Pax River, NRC Solomons and Webster Field,” explained Sandy Stankovich, Requirements Branch head, NAVFAC Washington. “We just awarded one recently and the completion date on the contract is December 3.”
Stankovich explained that when contractors are involved, there’s a process to follow that includes putting out a bid, requesting a proposal, reviewing estimates, negotiating, and then awarding the contract — all of which takes time.
Depending on the number of potholes and their severity, that project may be split to twice per year, but most of the time the award documents are done in the third or fourth quarter so repairs can start before bad weather and snow set in.
“People often ask why we’re repairing potholes instead of fixing the roads, and the reason is that repair of complete road sections is expensive and the annual repair budget is limited,” Stankovich said. “If we did a project to repair all of the roads at Pax River alone, it’d probably cost around $6 million; although next year, we will be starting to repair some of Cedar Point Road.”
If there’s a particularly deep or troublesome pothole, a temporary repair offers a provisional solution.
“For temporary repairs, we’ll put in a service ticket to the Base Operation and Support (BOS) contractor and they’ll have 10 calendar days to get the job done,” Stankovich added. “They’ll either put in CR6 [compactible crushed gravel or stone with sand] or a cold patch, depending on where the pothole is, what the situation is, or even what time of year it is — because asphalt plants aren’t open during the cold winter months. A cold patch can last several months to maybe a year.”
Public Works does what they can to alert Pax River’s motorists to potholes in the road, but even that isn’t an easy problem to solve.
“As far as how we address them so that people can see them is difficult,” Stankovich noted. “We can’t stick orange cones in the middle of the road because that could cause an accident. If we spray paint around them, that can’t be seen at night and it washes away eventually. Once, a cyclist swerved to avoid hitting a cone that had been placed near a pothole off to the side of the road, and was nearly struck by a passing vehicle. It’s a difficult safety situation to manage. The best solution is for people to report potholes quickly so they can be addressed and corrected as quickly as possible, especially when they pose a safety issue.”
Once a pothole is reported, personnel from Public Works will go out to survey the situation and determine the severity.
“Sometimes, potholes aren’t just potholes, they’re caused by storm water failures or water leaks and then utilities has to get involved,” Stankovich said. “We’ve also been experiencing sink holes throughout the base that we have to deal with and those are costing a lot of money to fix.”
Anyone can report a pothole by emailing email@example.com, and they’re encouraged to do so; but it may take some time before it’s able to be repaired.