Repair Crews and the Self-Contained RoadPatcher Pothole Repair Truck Trying to Keep Up With Mother Nature

Road Patcher

MTA Bridges &Tunnels maintenance crews and the agency's self-contained RoadPatcher pothole repair truck are busy trying to stay on top of this season's bumper crop of potholes that are the result of this year's rainy and snowy winter season. Since January, crews have fixed more than 2,500 potholes, including 1,000 in the first full week of March.

"There's no doubt that this is one of the busiest pothole repair seasons in recent memory thanks to the constant freezing and thawing that has occurred this winter," said Patrick Parisi, the Authority's Chief Maintenance Officer. "We know how important a smooth roadway is to our customers so we have crews out every day filling as many potholes as we can."

The repair season usually starts in early March, but it began in January this year due to all of the wet and snowy weather that started with the Dec. 18th blizzard that dumped mounds of snow on the City.

The RoadPatcher truck, which can fill up to 100 potholes in a single shift, is a key weapon in the seasonal war against potholes. This self-contained pothole repair unit uses a method called spray-injection patching.


In this method, the driver of the truck positions the RoadPatcher near the pothole and lowers the nozzle-and-boom attachment into the pothole. First, the nozzle sends a high-volume blast of air into the pothole to clean out loose debris and moisture. Next, using remote controls, the operator switches to a filling of hot emulsion, followed by a mixture of asphalt. After spraying a covering of dry stone aggregate over the filled in pothole, traffic can immediately begin driving on the patched surface.

Potholes occur when icy water and snow seeps into concrete and asphalt, solidifies and then expand. This causes cracks that continue to widen into potholes as vehicles travel over them. Each time a freeze-and-thaw cycle occurs, potholes are likely to form. Potholes are a nuisance on any road, but when they occur on bridges and tunnels, ramps and plaza areas, there is less room for drivers to maneuver around them so workers must act quickly to make the repairs.

Most potholes can be fixed by a team of two or three maintenance workers, using a single lane closure during off-peak hours. Larger potholes are fixed by the agency's Hot Box crews, named for the container where the 180-degree asphalt is kept, and may require two lanes being closed to ensure the safety of the crew.