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Road Crews Fixing Potholes Caught In Vicious Circle

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Road crews repairing potholes are locked in a never-ending battle.

But, as CBS 2's Don Champion reported, the work is more complicated than you might think.

Even as crews patch potholes, new and existing craters continue to surface. For example, the patchwork performed Monday on potholes along one stretch of the West Side Highway already has already been destroyed.

A highway worker told Champion the problem is "the salt that Sanitation uses. It's not their fault, but the salt is like acid."

The salt eats away at the temporary patch mixture, which is made up of asphalt cement, tar and rocks.

The mixture costs $100 a ton. If a road crew is filling a typical pothole that is 2 feet long and about 4 inches deep, that ton of mixture will only fill about 10 potholes.

New York City alone says it has filled more than 106,000 potholes already this year.

So why don't road crews use asphalt, which would be a more permanent fix? The problem is availability -- because hot asphalt can only be placed down in warmer temperatures, plants in the area shut down for winter.

One New Jersey company uses infrared technology to repair potholes, which it says lasts longer than a traditional patch job, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

Infrared Technology Used In Parts Of New Jersey To Seal Potholes

"We prepare the area with heat and then we add hot asphalt. And when you put the two together and use a vibratory roller, you have actually a thermal bond, so the pothole is sealed," Atlantic Infrared President Marilyn Grabowski told Diamond. "In the 13 years that we're fixing potholes, we never get call back for one of our repairs."

Unlike cold patching a pothole, the infrared technology uses a truck to heat the asphalt.

"Because it is sealed, water doesn't get into it in the future," Grabowski said.

The technology is being used in 67 New Jersey municipalities. But the cost -- $150,000 per truck -- and training involved has prevented more from signing on.

Potholes plagued the evening commute for drivers crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge into Rockland County on Wednesday, where emergency pothole repairs were being performed.

The work on northbound lanes -- between exits 10 and 11 in South Nyack and Nyack -- began at 4 p.m. and was expected to last several hours.

Drivers told Young they are growing tired of dealing with the craters. Potholes have been blamed for creating extensive damage to vehicles across the Tri-State area.

"A whole bunch of them have popped up all of a sudden in the past week or two," said driver Edwin Miranda.

"You have to take it slow because if you go over them too fast, you get in a situation where you can bottom out," added motorist Gloria Cappellini.

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