The holiday season might be the most wonderful time of year, but for many in New Jersey, it’s also the time when roads start to get littered with potholes.

According to Steve Schapiro, the director of communications for the state Department of Transportation, this is an ongoing problem.

“In fiscal year 2017, the last complete year of data we have, we repaired approximately 181,000 potholes, and that’s right around the average for the past six years,” he said.

He noted so far in fiscal 2018, which began July 1, the DOT has filled about 66,000 potholes.

“Usually, the largest repair season is in the spring coming out of winter, so we’ll see those numbers jump quite a bit once winter is over.”

He explained when there are big temperature fluctuations, creating a freeze-thaw cycle, “that’s particularly harsh on the roadways because the water seeps in, it freezes. When it freezes it expands, which creates the potholes.”

The yo-yo pattern of temperatures going up and down will produce more potholes than a normal winter temperature cycle.

Schapiro said during the winter, when most asphalt plants are shut down, a cold-patch material is typically used to fill holes.

“What that does is that temporarily repairs the pothole and then when temperatures warm up we’ll use a variety of methods to repair potholes.”

He explained the cold patch “doesn’t adhere as well to the road surface as hot asphalt will but it’s something we can use to get that road repaired, keep it safe until we can make those permanent repairs in the spring.”

One of those permanent methods, according to Schapiro, involves using a “hotbox” filled with a hot-mix asphalt that is scooped out of the box then slapped into a pothole by a roving crew repairing the craters by hand.

He said another method is to use a pothole filling machine that’s operated by one person.

“It’s got a hose that will basically blow air and clear out any debris from a pothole, and then injects the tar mixture into the pothole, and then fills it with the gravel or the asphalt.”

Occasionally, a permanent patch will be required, where a section of roadway littered with potholes is dug up and resurfaced .

Pothole sightings on state highways and interstates can be report to 1-800-POTHOLE or online.

Schapiro said when reporting a bothersome pothole, tell the state "what highway it is, what direction of travel you’re going, as well as any mile marker or cross street, something to help identify where that pothole is.”

A list of county road numbers is posted on the DOT website if a pothole is spotted on a county road.

Schapiro also noted on the pothole reporting page there is a link to the New Jersey Department of Treasury’s Office of Risk Management, which handles all complaints about damage caused to vehicles by a pothole.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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