Potholes, Explained

Pothole 101 – Introduction to Potholes and Traditional Pothole-Filling Techniques

Introduction to potholes and pothole-filling techniques. Topics include an introduction on how potholes are formed and a tutorial on how potholes are treated by trained District Department of Transportation (DDOT) professionals, including an overview of the various compounds DDOT uses to fill potholes.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

pot•hole n. 1. Holes in the roadway that appear after water infiltrates, and then expands and contracts, underneath the surface. This process weakens the surface material (for example, asphalt), which is further deteriorated as vehicles pass over it. Potholes appear in periods when there are frequent oscillations between below- and above-freezing temperatures.

Traditional Pothole-Filling Techniques

    • Cold Mix Asphalt: Cold mix asphalt is a type of material that is used to patch potholes when roadway temperatures are consistently below 32°F. While this material is more malleable that hot mix asphalt (discussed below), it is also more susceptible to deterioration than its hot-mix counterpart.
    • Hot Mix Asphalt: Hot mix asphalt is the “preferred alternative for patching operations” according to Federal Highway Administration Report No. FHWA-RD-99-168. Because of its composition, hot mix asphalt has more viscosity than cold mix asphalt and settles, or cures, faster as well. However, it can only be applied in a climate where roadway temperatures are at 40°F and rising.

Using cold mix asphalt to fill potholes on Rhode Island Avenue NE.

Due to consistently low temperatures, DDOT is currently utilizing cold mix asphalt to fill potholes around the District. In addition to low temperatures, the agency is also limited by precipitation and cannot fill potholes in the rain or the snow. DDOT crews have patched more than 19,000 potholes as of March 31, a figure that industry professionals think will steadily grow in the days leading up to the start of the agency’s 2014 Potholepalooza campaign.


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DDOT’s Ward 7 Project Update Presentation

DDOT's Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson, Director Terry Bellamy and UFA Associate Director John Thomas answer questions from the Ward 7 community after a meeting on March 6.

DDOT’s Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson, Director Terry Bellamy and UFA Associate Director John Thomas answer questions from the Ward 7 community after a meeting on March 6.

The night before DDOT met a major milestone in its 11th Street Bridge project by opening a new, inbound ramp on I-695 (Southeast / Southwest Freeway) the agency provided updates on the project and an assortment of other initiatives that it hopes will have a positive impact on the Ward 7 community.

Hosted at the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church on March 6, the presentation allowed DDOT an opportunity to showcase the many projects that it is actively moving down the pipeline in Ward 7, including an effort to improve traffic safety and traffic flow at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, a project to upgrade Minnesota Avenue from A Street SE to Dix Street NE, the agency’s Barney Circle / Southeast Boulevard Transportation Study and an ambitious initiative to enhance the traffic signals at more than 200 intersections in Wards 6, 7 and 8.

An attendee reads up on the agency's Barney Circle / Southeast Boulevard Transportation Study.

An attendee reads up on the agency’s Barney Circle / Southeast Boulevard Transportation Study.

In addition to detailing these and other projects, DDOT walked residents through the often involving process that it has to go through to bring each and every one of its large-scale initiatives to life.

The first-and foremost-step in this process is reaching out to the affected community for their thoughts about a project. This phase, as well as all the other steps that DDOT undergoes before it starts construction, “are key so that we can ensure that these undertakings—as well as everything else we do—are done correctly and that they meet the needs of the people who we serve: the residents of the District of Columbia,” said Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson.

Community involvement and other steps that DDOT goes through in the course of a project are "key...to meet the needs of the people who we serve: the residents of the District of Columbia," said DDOT Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson.

Community involvement and the other steps that DDOT goes through in the course of a project are “key…to meet the needs of the people who we serve: the residents of the District of Columbia,” said DDOT Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson.

For more information about the DDOT’s Ward 7 Project Update Presentation, please see the slideshow and the agenda from the presentation.

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DDOT Issues More Than 100K Visitor Parking Passes

parking pass

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) mailed out more than 111,000 new visitor parking passes through late November. The new passes are valid through September 30, 2014.

The Visitor Parking Pass (VPP) program is designed to allow guests of District residents to park for more than two hours on Residential Permit Parking (RPP) blocks.  The passes are only valid during the hours of RPP enforcement and are not necessary on holidays or other times when parking restrictions are not subject to enforcement.

Visitor passes were issued to residents in Wards 1, 3, 4, 5 and some parts of Ward 6.

If you reside in one of these areas and did not receive a VPP—or live on an eligible RPP block—please visit vpp.ddot.dc.gov to request a pass. You may also request a VPP by calling (202) 673-6813 between 8:15 am and 4:45 pm, Monday through Friday, to speak with a DDOT representative. If you are eligible, DDOT will mail a pass to your address.

Eligible residents that previously requested a VPP will receive a pass in the mail.

Please note that residents are also able to obtain temporary parking passes from Metropolitan Police Department stations for eligible vehicles.

More information about the Visitor Parking Pass program is available online at ddot.dc.gov/vpp.

Please Note: District residents who receive the passes cannot use them in lieu of registering their vehicles with the District Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  If residents receiving passes have guests that stay overnight regularly, then the visitor must register their vehicle through the Registration of Out of State Automobile (ROSA) program once a Warning Citation is issued by DPW parking enforcement personnel.

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DDOT’s Project to Automate I-395’s Air Rights Tunnel

A worker stands atop a vast network of air ducts inside the Air Rights Tunnel that help draw out harmful gases (for example, carbon monoxide) in the tunnel.

DDOT has a plan to not only improve the condition of the District’s tunnels, but to make them more energy efficient as well.  The Air Rights Tunnel—which channels I-395 under H Street, K Street, and Massachusetts Avenue NW—has received upgrades in order to become automated.

DDOT is doing away with fluorescent lighting in the Air Rights Tunnel.  The new lighting system is calibrated to increase or decrease output as needed in the day and at night. Also, the new lights are fixed to the walls instead of being strung in line down the ceiling of the structure. 

Another new addition to the Air Rights Tunnel is that the large fans—which are used to ventilate the tunnel—have been programmed to adjust their output to deal with the increased carbon monoxide that is produced during periods of roadway congestion. This will increase visibility, and decrease harmful gases for travelers inside the tunnel.

The Massachusetts Avenue NW bridge over I-395 and the Air Rights Tunnel.

The Massachusetts Avenue NW bridge over I-395 and the Air Rights Tunnel.

DDOT rehabilitated some critical pieces of infrastructure that lie atop the Air Rights Tunnel as well. The bridges on K Street, H Street, and Massachusetts Avenue NW that run over the tunnel were restored as part of the project.

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M Street Cycle Track Installation Now Underway

This week DDOT broke ground on the M Street protected bike lane (aka cycle track).

DDOT crews installing M Street cycle rack

DDOT crews installing median on Rhode Island Avenue NW for the M Street Cycle Track

Our crews began by installing a median on the south side of Rhode Island Avenue NW (east of Connecticut Avenue NW) that will serve as a buffer to separate vehicular traffic from the lane (see picture at right). Next week, weather permitting, we will begin work on M Street NW near 14th Street and New Hampshire Avenue.

We’re installing the cycle track lane as a “retrofit” which will not require for the entire roadway to be resurfaced. To install the lane existing markings will be removed and replaced with new markings for the bike lane. We specifically chose to implement the M Street cycle track as a “retrofit” to allow for time to evaluate the design and operations before making permanent changes to the roadway.

Although our schedule will be largely driven by weather conditions, we are eager to complete the lane within four to six weeks.

If it rains or snows installation activities will likely shutdown for the day and may delay the completion date. At a minimum, pavement temperature conditions must be at least 40°F to allow for concrete and pavement pours to cure and for pavement markings to properly adhere to the roadway surface.

We thank the community for their support while the lane is under construction and remind cyclists to be please avoid using the lane until it is fully completed.

About the M Street Cycle Track

The M Street cycle track, with a buffer of parked cars and flexible posts, will span over a mile on the north side of M Street NW, between 14th Street and 28th Street, and will serve as the westbound compliment to the eastbound cycle track on L Street NW. On the 1500 block of M Street NW, the lane will be installed as a “traditional” bike lane. Green paint will also be used for much of the block to increase the visibility of the lane.

For more information about DDOT’s Bicycle Program please visit this link.

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Parking in District Now Easier for Carshare Users

The District was an early proponent of carsharing as an innovative way to help reduce traffic congestion and competition for parking spaces. In an effort to make carsharing even easier, the District Department of Transportation is offering a new program where carshare companies can purchase a permit that will allow members more flexibility when it comes to parking their carshare vehicle.

Zipcar has obtained these permits for their entire DC fleet. Starting today, Zipcar members will now be able to park in Residential Parking Permit (RPP) zones while they are using Zipcar vehicles, which are all registered in the District of Columbia and carry DC license plates. In the past, Zipcar members have been unable to temporarily park near their home if they live on an RPP street.

An additional benefit to the program is that members will not have to pay at parking meters. Approximately 40 percent of parking transactions in the District are now made by phone – a process that is not convenient for individuals using a carshare vehicle.

All Zipcar vehicles, more than 825 of them, will still have home parking spaces to which they must be returned at the end of a member’s reservation. This includes 40 on-street parking spaces identified with orange carsharing poles.

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DDOT Upgrades Transportation Online Permitting System

The District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) Transportation Online Permitting System (TOPS) is getting a facelift: the redesigned TOPS—which goes live on Thursday, November 7, 2013—offers public space permit applicants a more streamlined experience.

The remodeled site offers users a more intuitive interface and frontloads a lot of important features so that visitors can find information about permit fees and conditions; required documents; kiosk locations; and permit types up-front, without having to log-in to the site.

An example of all the information that the new TOPS site offers about construction / excavation permits.

An example of all the information that the new TOPS site offers about construction / excavation permits.

For registered users, the TOPS site offers more useful tools as well. A glossary helps familiarize users with technical language. An interactive map features different layers (for example, permitted public space  projects, street tree locations) that can be toggled on and off by the user, street-view capabilities, and a tool that allows users to measure public space dimensions in an area.

DDOT’s new TOPS site not only provides users with a smoother, easier-to-navigate online tool for all their public space permitting needs, it also allows the agency to more efficiently process the influx of public space permits it receives. TOPS allows DDOT staff to review submitted documents electronically and provide revisions and stamp their approval electronically as well. DDOT has processed more than 90,000 public space permits in the last three fiscal years.

For more details about TOPS please visit tops.ddot.dc.gov.   To contact DDOT’s Public Space Permits Center please call (202) 442-4670.

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