Street and Traffic Control Department Works to Fill Potholes
The Fort Smith Street and Traffic Control Department is busy maintaining the city streets this time of year, and that includes filling potholes and cracks caused by wet roads and freezing temperatures.
“Any time we have a weather event like we just had with lots of ice, there’s going to be potholes because there’s so much water on the roads and ice,” said Greg Riley, the director of the streets department.
Riley’s department is responsible for maintaining Fort Smith city streets. He emphasized there are a number of state highways that run through Fort Smith that are the responsibility of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.
Riley said his crew plans ahead when the forecast predicts severe winter weather. They’ll have between five and 10 crew members out working to patch the roads after a winter storm.
“The biggest enemy to any pavement is water and ice,” Riley said. “When the water gets in (the pavement) and it freezes, that’s what breaks out in the crack and it becomes a pothole. With the traffic and the water splashing, it just keeps making it bigger and bigger.”
Mack McKinley, owner of Mack’s Auto Center on Albert Pike Road in Fort Smith, has seen firsthand just how damaging potholes can be to a vehicle.
“Potholes are extremely hard on the front suspension on an automobile,” McKinley said.
He said driving over potholes can affect a car’s alignment and be damaging to tires and ball joints.
“When the ball joint breaks, the tire just lays down,” McKinley said. “The car’s out of control, and the customer who’s driving it, whoever’s driving it, is just on the ride until it stops.”