This may have been a mild winter, but the state's roadways are as bad as ever.

January's blizzard and subsequent rain storms inflicted enough damage that officials expect to patch up about 250,000 potholes by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

In a typical year, the state repairs about 180,000 potholes, although severe winters caused that number to rise to about 270,000 potholes in each of the past two years, officials said.

The state Department of Transportation this week began its campaign to fill the craters, putting about 500 workers on repair crews, officials said.

DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro said Thursday that repair campaign will probably last four to six weeks.

POTHOLE PATROL: Does the commute to work feel like driving through the far side of the moon? Tell us where the biggest Jersey craters are in the comments below.

“The main method to start is using what is known as cold patch material. It’s referred to sometimes as 'throw and go.' It’s a small amount of material you can use to fill the pothole,” said Schapiro. “This can be used in colder temperatures and it is quicker and easier than other materials.”

Crews are also using what are known as "hot boxes" — mini trailers pulled by a DOT truck.

“This has some asphalt that you can warm up and then do a more permanent patch,” he said.

Schapiro said the DOT is using 13 pothole-filling truck machines that come equipped with a long hose in the front.

“The hose basically will blow air into the pothole and remove any debris, dry it out, and then inject asphalt tar material and then gravel to fill the pothole,” he said. “It actually can fill a pothole much more quickly and safely.”

These machines are more cost effective, Schapiro said, because they allow the DOT to cover more roadways than crews on foot, and they’re safer because there’s one operator inside the truck, operating the machine, and a second DOT worker following behind in a separate vehicle with flashing warning lights.

How to report a pothole

So what should you do if you spot a pothole, or even worse, drive into one?

“Call 1-800-POTHOLE, and note your location, so know which highway you’re on, and if there’s a reference point, either a mile marker or a cross street, which direction you’re traveling in,” he said. “Then we fill fix that pothole.”

Schapiro said pothole repairs will mostly take place after 9 a.m. and wrap up by 3 p.m. to avoid traffic tie ups, but sometimes there may be lane closures.

Where should DOT workers go next? Tell us in the comments below.

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