FORT MILL TOWNSHIP — The snow, ice and freezing rain in late January and mid-February, sandwiched by a few unseasonably warm days, have created potholes on local roads and exacerbated existing ones.
“On an average day we get 10 to 15 requests for repairs,” said John Welbourne, a road inspector for the S.C. Department of Transportation. “After an event of freezing and thawing and re-freezing, we get 50 to 60 requests a day.”
On the plus side, Welbourne said, the DOT was prepared.
“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “As soon as crews get finished putting up the ice and snow, we automatically gear up for massive pothole repair. We know it’s coming.”
There is not a list for which roads crews will repair, Welbourne said.
“All of them,” he laughed – and he wasn’t joking. “We have a foreman out in the county keeping tabs on which ones are the worst and the second-to-worst and eventually we get to all of them.”
Typically, Welbourne said, a crew manning a dump truck filled with gravel makes the rounds with a device that heats tar. Holes are filled with gravel and covered with the tar – when it’s available. A shortage of material is making the DOT switch to a substance Welbourne refers to as “coal mix” to patch some holes.
“It’s not as good, but we do the best we can with what we have,” he said.
Perry Crocker, assistant district engineer for S.C. DOT’s District 4, which included York County, asks residents to be patient.
“Crews in York County are working 50-hour weeks trying to keep up,” he said.
Repair work could take less time, Crocker said, if SCDOT wasn’t hamstrung by a lack of resources.
“We’re dealing with a highway (funding) system that’s at best a D-minus,” Crocker said. “I think everybody locally understands the issue is, it’s a matter of where you find the funds.”
As far as neighborhood streets, Fort Mill residents shouldn’t notice any problems, said town spokeswoman Kimberly Starnes.
“Residential streets were not treated, so they shouldn’t develop any issues,” she wrote in an email to the Fort Mill Times, “but if they do, Public Works will take care of them.”
Michael Harrison • 803-547-2353