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Asphalt plants get early start with new pothole patching operation


CHARLESTON — Operation R.I.P. Potholes will commence this month.

Gov. Jim Justice and the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) said crews will be tending to some really bad potholes while the weather is getting warmer.

“We’re gonna launch an all-out assault to take care of the worst,” said Justice during a media briefing this past week.

Temperatures over the next few weeks are expected to be in the 50s and 60s. With that, WVDOH said asphalt plants in Princeton and Morgantown are open, which is earlier than normal. Potholes in southern and north-central West Virginia will be tended to a lot sooner with hot mix repairs.

The WVDOH was able to come to terms with several asphalt plants to open temporarily to make the needed pothole repairs now. Plants usually don’t open until spring.

“Our partners in the asphalt industry are cooperating with us to open during the off-season to provide us with hot asphalt to make needed repairs,” said Joe Pack, WVDOH chief engineer of operations.

On Jan. 30, an asphalt plant opened in Poca. This will allow the WVDOH and contractors to make permanent patches on roads in Kanawha, Boone, Cabell, Clay, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Mingo, Putnam and Wayne counties.

The opening of the Princeton plant will allow patching in Fayette, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, Summers and Wyoming counties in southern West Virginia. Opening the plant in Morgantown will allow patching in Doddridge, Harrison, Marion, Monongalia, Preston and Taylor counties in upper north-central West Virginia.

The WVDOH usually sets a goal to have potholes filled by the end of May. That can’t come soon enough, according to the governor.

“We’ve always wanted to accomplish that by Memorial Day, but right now we’ve got some bad ones,” Justice said.

Wintertime repairs usually involve patching potholes with cold asphalt and the repairs are only temporary. Hot asphalt is needed to make the repairs more permanent.