Road damage after winter season: 3 effective measures for cities and municipalities

2 min read
30. October 2023

Snow covered landscapes and glistening ice, sounds nice, right? Despite its beauty, winter can be a major challenge for the infrastructure of cities and municipalities. In areas with severe freezing conditions, drivers need to be particularly vigilant because the winter season often results in road damage, like potholes, which pose a real danger.

Potholes are mainly caused by the physical effects of freezing and thawing. When moisture seeps into road cracks or joints, the water can freeze and crack the surrounding material. As the ice melts in the spring, water can penetrate the resulting gaps and erode the subgrade. This leads to the formation of potholes that, without repairs, inevitably grow larger over time.

The effects of potholes are manifold. Most importantly, they increase the incidence of road accidents. They also lead to commonplace tire and chassis damage for drivers, resulting in higher maintenance and repair costs for vehicle owners and municipalities alike. Potholes disrupt road traffic and affect the quality of life for citizens, making roads more dangerous and less effective for everyone they serve. 

To minimize the occurrence of winter potholes, there are various measures cities and municipalities can take:

1. Select sustainable materials

One way to prevent freezing damage is to use more sustainable and resistant materials in road construction. There are various options for this, such as asphalt mixtures with special additives like polymers, fibers and mineral fillers that increase frost resistance, or aggregates that enable better drainage. The use of these materials can extend the life of road infrastructure and reduce maintenance costs. However, many cities and towns continue to use conventional materials for road construction because sustainable alternatives are more expensive to purchase. In the long term, however, sustainable materials pay for themselves due to lower maintenance costs.

2. Focus on innovative road design

Another effective method to prevent winter damage is to use innovative drainage systems as well as infiltration systems to improve drainage during road construction. Well-designed roadside landscaping with trees, shrubs and other plants can also greatly help to absorb excess rain and melt water as well as support the natural water cycle. Both of these strategies help to divert excess water away from the road quickly and efficiently. As a result, damage caused by freezing and thawing, heavy rains, and flooding can be minimized, 

3. Use a road management system

Cities and municipalities typically conduct a spring inspection of their roads to assess damage after the winter. However, this only provides as a snapshot of their road conditions. A road management system, on the other hand, enables data imaging of real-time road conditions and generates detailed analysis of damages to road infrastructure. Using the vialytics web system, changes in the road surface can be detected early and often. Simple task management enables timely planning and coordination of road repairs as well as maintenance work, avoiding costly rehabilitation and major repair costs. Furthermore, with the use of vialytics’ planning tool, repairs can be bundled and carried out in one go, resulting in fewer traffic disruptions. Using a road management system not only saves time and money, but also helps cities and municipalities prevent future road damage and provide safer roads to the communities they serve.

More use cases for the vialytics system on our website: