A pothole rant while we wait for Spring to arrive – Opinion


If there is anything that adds to frustration about the potholes in the roads in Huntsville, it’s the red Town truck that drives around filling those holes. It makes me cringe, it makes me anxious, and it makes me mad.

Without a word of a lie, there is a red Town truck outfitted with some aggregate/tar mix and two shovels in the box. Staff drive around in it with the tailgate down and shovel cold mix into potholes. I’ve seen it. You have probably seen it, too. And I’ve seen it drive away without even so much as running the truck’s tires over the patch of newly laid black crap to pack it down.

Now, I’m no engineer and I’ve never built a road. But I do bake from time to time and one of the rules of baking has to do with measuring brown sugar. When you fill a measuring cup with brown sugar you have to pack it down to get an accurate measurement. Anyone who has ever done this knows that after you pack it down you can get about half as much again of brown sugar in the cup.

So I’m left to wonder, why do the people in the red Town truck slop the black sticky mixture into the hole and drive away? Have they never baked? Do they not realize that once that mixture packs down the hole is only half full?

Then there is the problem of who ends up compressing the cold mix. Well, that would be you and me in our non-Town-owned vehicles. Don’t you just love the sound of those rocks and tar hitting the underside of your car as you drive over a fresh patch?

At that moment I feel like the Town should be paying me to do their job. My car is being pelted by rocks and sludge as it finishes the Town’s pothole repair job, but my vehicle is not part of the fleet replacement plan. The red truck is.

As Spring is approaching this practice needs to be stopped.  Allowing the potholes to be filled with cold mix that is not properly spread nor compressed is not just a waste of money, it’s offensive.


  1. We have had a sizable washout along the road which is “above” the grade of our property by quite a lot. First there was an orange cone to notify people of the hole in the shoulder, then I think the entire red truck of mix was put in the hole, cone replaced. Now we have had rain, and snow and ice, guess where all that fill is?
    Drives me crazy

  2. Colleen Gendron on

    In the fall they did the throw a shovel full in the pot holes cracked roads. Without patting down of course. Then we got sow and the plow plowed it all out and thru it on to the side of the road. Also how long can you patch a sinkhole before someone falls in.

  3. Shelley Rawn on

    Yes i agree with you about all this pothole stuff and the tar hitting the bottom of my newer car. Every other month they are filling in the same old holes,all the money they waste doing this,they could of paved the road by now.

  4. Hey folks, I can sympathize with you all about potholes, but be real here.
    First there are mixes designed especially for pothole filling, they are designed to be packed by the traffic. Why? Well if you thought that town truck was a pain in the wheel well now, just try getting it to drive back and forth 10 times for each pothole filled. This won’t help much.
    Remember that when they do this job it is essentially an “emergency and temporary repair”! I mean if they did nothing your poor little Honda would soon be able to lose an entire wheel in the pothole. They have to do something and this is the best we have today. If you have a better idea please get off your keyboard and invent it as I’m sure you could sell it to every town in Canada.

    Climate is changing, this is part of it. The “spring like” freeze thaw daily cycles take all but the best roads apart and now our period for this type of weather is longer than ever in history.

    The amount of traffic also causes this issue to be worse. Plain and simple on this one.

    I’ve driven around here for nearly 50 years and can remember further back than that as a kid being chauffeured by my parents. Our roads are today better than they ever have been and we have a heck of a lot more roads too.

    If you really want to get away from potholes maybe move to Florida? On the other hand, in about 50 more years Florida will be mostly under water they say so maybe that is not a good solution either.

    We are not perfect, but I would not bitch too much about the town truck with pothole mix. They are doing the best they can with the money we gave them and the weather nature has handed them.

  5. Dale Peacock on

    Gee, thanks Liz! You got me all worked up and I’m not even home yet. My two spring rants are pothole maintenance and the dog crap left over from those people who think out of sight out of mind as their dog’s steaming mound sinks gracefully through the snow only to become visible again once the snow melts. Sometimes it shows up on top of a pothole and then my two rants can become one.
    But seriously….this issue is as old as asphalt. Surely, a semi-permanent solution can be found to the wretched roads issue and I know that a permanent solution can be found to the shoddy patching. Hire someone willing to get his/her ass out of the truck to do a little serious tamping down.

  6. I am in property management and maintenance. Some of our clients have aging driveways where we have had to use cold patch which specifically in no uncertain terms indicates compacting or else it will stick to tires and in effect pull it out of the repair. I believe they only do it to say that they’re trying to address the issue. It’s a waste of our tax money if it’s not done properly, period. Personally speaking I’d rather it take longer and be done right. I use Earls Rd everyday and have watched multiple roads that are nowhere near as bad as Earls get repaved. It’s a cowpath of potholes connected by small segments of asphalt. TO THE POWERS THAT BE ….PLEASE REPAVE THIS TINY 1KM GAUNTLET OF POTHOLES. Many places you have to drive in the middle or oncoming lane. We have had many vehicle repairs due to Earls Rd and town negligence. This year my petitions will become more vocal as politely asking doesn’t work. I guess it’s back to the old saying the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I’m certain I can get every resident on the road even those who use the road locally to petition town. Please do the right thing Huntsville public works department help us with this embarrassing road. In closing, too bad that when the G8 was here they didn’t have to use it or I bet it would have been done. Let’s impress foreign leaders but who cares about the townspeople who foot the bill?

  7. I’m not a great believer in cold mix, period; it is more a program designed to bring part-time staff off EI a tad earlier, than a boon to our spring roads. Personally, I would prefer a selective, proactive program in the fall. The pothole locations are virtually the same every year. Why not fill them in the fall with machine-compressed hot mix? Yes, hot mix is more expensive. Yes, the required temperature of 10 degrees and rising may be problematic to achieve. But at least the pothole will not reappear in less than a week. Sometimes a Band-Aid is just a Band-Aid.

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