The difficulty of dodging potholes while driving at fast speeds has made State Road 252 a route that drivers try to avoid.
Unfortunately for Mitch Beasley of Greenwood, the highway is the main route to his mother’s home in Prince’s Lakes. Every time he drives on that road, he pays attention to other drivers and where they swerve, since he could be coming up on an unexpected pothole or crack.
“I try to stay off 252 unless I’m going to my mom’s. That’s the only time,” Beasley said. “I’ve never had a wreck there, but I find myself dodging potholes.”
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Beasley and the rest of Johnson County will have to wait another year before those potholes go away. The cracks and potholes are what is left after the state took off the top surface of the highway after a process meant to preserve the road didn’t work.
Chip-and-seal, or when liquid asphalt is sprayed into cracks on the road and filled with rocks or gravel, is a common process used by the state to preserve a road from getting worse. It is a temporary solution that puts off the need for repaving the entire road, which is costly. State Road 252, a major route in southern Johnson County, was chip-and-sealed in 2013, but the sealing technique was not successful.
So last year, workers took off the top layer of the road.
Now, the state will wait until 2016 to fully repave the road with asphalt, said Harry Maginity, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman.
“Another winter of that? Let’s see how big the potholes get after that,” Beasley said.
During winter, potholes drivers try to dodge fill with snow and ice, so problem areas are tougher to spot, said Eric Staggs who works in Trafalgar. This makes an already bumpy road difficult to navigate, he said.
“I’m not the type that feels like the potholes cause major wrecks; but in winter, when it’s snow and ice and you can’t see anything, that just makes it more uneasy,” Staggs said.
Staggs lives in Martinsville but drives on State Road 252 daily to get to work. Since portions of the highway twist and turn, that makes the potholes even harder to spot.
“It’s frustrating. I know there’s people who have popped tires (on 252),” Staggs said.
When the state chip-and-sealed the road, the asphalt was bleeding off the road. The liquid asphalt was spreading off the road, and rocks hit people’s vehicles, cracking windshields. Although that is a risk during any chip-and-seal project, rocks should not continue flying off the road after about three or four days, Maginity said. Multiple factors could have led to the poor chip-and-seal, such as the wrong kind of gravel used and not enough oil sprayed on the road. Even the weather could have been too hot or cold for the asphalt to set, he said.
Since the process did not properly seal the road, state workers ground down the road to remove any of the leftover material. And that’s the condition the road remains in.
“There are still rocks popping up,” said Kenny Hogan, who lives just outside Trafalgar.
Driving on the highway is really loud when hitting the rocks and gravel on top of the asphalt, and Hogan thinks the state wasted money by putting down chip seal just to ground up the road again.
“They should do it (resurface) now since the oil prices are down,” Hogan said.
For now, the state wants to do a full resurface project possibly within the next two years but does not have the money to fix the road this year, Maginity said.
Once the road is resurfaced, Jim Singleton, the director of transportation for Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United School Corp., will be happy — as long as it is not chip-sealed again, since it cracked multiple windshields of school buses previously.
Now, the road is noisy, but drivers don’t complain, Singleton said.
“We should be OK there as long as it doesn’t have those pebbles in it,” he said.