A big nuisance to New Jersey drivers, potholes littered Garden State highways and roadways last year. But so far this year, very few have been spotted.

AHMED MOBARKI, ThinkStock

And if New Jersey motorists are looking to thank someone for making their drive a little easier, look no further than Mother Nature.

This year, New Jersey hasn't experienced the precipitation combined with an erratic weather pattern where temperatures drop into the single digits and then spike back up before dropping again.

"What happens is you get water, it will seep into cracks and then when you have that freeze the water expands and it can break up the roadway,” said Steve Shapiro, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT). "It’s much more damaging on a roadway than when the temperatures are consistent, whether they’re warm or cold.”

Shapiro said the DOT filled about 275,000 potholes in 2015 and 2014, about 100,00 more than is typical. The peak of pothole season is normally in early spring. Typically, the state spends about $2 million a year on pothole repair, although Shapiro said it did get up to $3 million in the last couple of years.

And while DOT crews don't have many potholes to fix, they are keeping busy.

"They’re repairing signs, picking up litter, mowing grass. They trim back vegetation and trees. They’ll do sweeping on the roadways. They’ve always got plenty of work to do," Shapiro said.

In addition, crews also make sure all DOT equipment, like plows and salt spreaders, are in good condition and working properly.

"So when we do get winter’s arrival, they’ll be ready to go and be able to keep the streets clear and safe for travelers,” Shapiro said.

For any potholes that do form this winter, Shapiro says the DOT will probably use a Pothole Killer to take care of it.

“It’s a truck that takes less personnel to operate and the pothole material is heated so it’s a bit more effective than the cold-patch method,” Shapiro said.

And if you happen to spot a pothole on your commute to work, the DOT wants to know about it.

The number to report potholes is 1-800-POTHOLE.

"If you can report what roadway it’s on, and any either cross street or mile marker and also what lane it is, - that’s helpful for our crews to know exactly where to go,” Shapiro said.

Motorists can also go to the DOT's website to report potholes.

 

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