GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan is made for potholes. The orange cones appear like clockwork every spring to repair the damage our winter has done. Road crews always have strict schedules in our state to keep up with the reoccurring problem. Unfortunately, our climate is perfect for potholes which makes removing them all an impossible goal.

Roads are made with layers of differing material.

Roads are comprised of layers of different substances

Naturally over time, these roads weaken with frequent traffic.

Frequent traffic naturally weakens roads

Why is Michigan so prone to potholes?

While road weakness happens all over America, certain climates are more prone to pothole development. Michigan is ideal, because its winters feature several freeze/thaw instances and a good amount of moisture. Dry, cold climates are less susceptible to the problem.

Rain seeping through cracks in the top layers of pavement aid pothole development

Rain water, or melting snow, will settle into cracks that form in road surfaces. As water travels down into the base course it will frequently settle, still near enough to the surface to be affected by daily freeze/thaws.

If the temperature drops below freezing, the water becomes ice and expands slightly.

When the water freezes under roads, it can disrupt the weakened portions

As the ice melts and traffic increases the portion of the road that was forced upward collapses inward with the weight of the vehicles.

Potholes form when weakened road collapses inward after water freezes and thaws below the surface of the road.

Not only is Michigan wet enough for moisture to travel into cracks in the road, it experiences a high number of freeze-thaw events each winter. Some months can see as many as 50 or more freeze/thaw instances in a given month. With ample lake effect moisture always in play, our state is made for rough roads.