Spring is finally around the corner. The sun is shining, the grass is visible, and the University of Rhode Island roads are riddled with potholes. Many students are fed up with bouncing and swerving on their commutes to avoid getting their cars wrecked.

I am in a Honda Civic so my car just kinda flops all over the street, said junior Maya Stern. My car is so low to the ground that I have to brace myself whenever I have to hit one. They are getting hard to avoid.

Stern is not alone. Students complain about the potholes over the popular social media app Yik Yak. People have complained about everything from cracked rims and lost hubcaps to burst tires and broken exhaust welds.

My splash guard got wrecked and I need an alignment done, said one student.

Matt Amarante, a senior URI student, popped his tire on a pothole coming down Kingstown Road in front of the Keaney parking lot.

It was dark and I could not swerve around [the pothole] due to the oncoming traffic on the other side of the road, which also has massive potholes right in that vicinity, Amarante said. The tire burst immediately and I dragged [it] down the road about 100 yards before stopping directly in front of the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame.

It is possible to get reimbursed for damage that comes from campus road conditions. Cynthia Stanton, the URI risk manager, said that students who have damage to their cars must first call campus police and file a report right after the incident happened. Then, students must submit a receipt for the repairs to Risk Management to get a reimbursement.

It is kind of a catch 22, Stanton said. In order for the university to be liable, they have to have due notice to fix the potholes. But because of the weather conditions, they have not been able to go in and fix them.

Stanton said Flagg Road is what she has primarily received complaints about. Stanton herself has had to replace four tires after hitting potholes there.

Flagg Road needs to be pulled up. It is the heaving process. The entire road is buckled from the snow, ice, sanding, it is everything, Stanton said. I am not sure what lands and grounds has in place, but I know they tried to fill them immediately. It has to be done completely over again.

Part of the issue is that year after year, they provide temporary fixes to the infrastructure by filling in the potholes with asphalt, Amarante said. We need permanent fixes. The roads need to be overhauled.

Stanton said that the road work is usually done during the summer.

Director of Facilities Jerry Sidio says that taking care of the road conditions in and around campus “is a priority.

It is one of our main concerns moving through the spring, he said. “There is a significant amount of damage on campus roads.

Sidio said that upper Flagg Road has serious damage, lower Flagg Road has significant damage, Plains Road has significant damage, Alumni Avenue as well has some significant damage, along with several other areas.

Over the past two weeks, the facilities department has placed over six tons of asphalt, and filled all of the open holes in the ground, Sidio said, but there is still more work to be done.

Instead of actual holes, there are a lot of areas where pavement is disrupted and pushed up that tend to cause problems. Sidio said that he has to wait for the ground to thaw fully before doing repairs.

There are a lot of areas where pavement is disrupted and pushed up, Sidio said. It is not a hole but a ripple in pavement. On those we have to let the defrosting continue and [allow] temperatures to rise so the roads settle back down as much as they can.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation website, potholes generally start forming in the late winter into early spring. Rain or snow seeps into the ground beneath the pavement, typically through cracks in the road. As temperatures drop throughout the season, the water freezes and expands, pushing up the ground, taking the pavement up with it. As the temperatures go back to normal, the ground flattens again, leaving a gap in between the pavement and the road. When cars repeatedly hit the bump, it weakens the pavement until it cracks and sinks, creating another pothole.

Sidio said that even though the department has fixed many of the potholes, more are still going to form before the end of the season. He asks that students report any potholes or pavement ruptures that they call the Facilities Control Desk at 401-874-4060.

Around campus, the damage ranges significantly, Sidio said. Each situation requires a different method to fix the problem.

Some can just be capped with asphalt if it has some cracks or is broken up a bit. In other more serious situations, we have to grind up asphalt into gravel and regrade the area, then do asphalt on top, he said. In most severe cases, we have to remove asphalt and redo the road foundation and then rebuild the road in that section.

We are asking people to be wary, Stanton said. It is not just campus, its all over Rhode Island. It is not just students either. It affects staff as well as anyone who comes on campus. We know this is a concern.

Reference: Pacific Pavingstone | Paving Stone Professionals | Southern CA.

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Emma Gauthier
Emma is a senior journalism and English double major with a minor in political science from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She has worked for the Cigar since her first semester at URI as a staff reporter, then web editor, news editor and finally Editor in Chief. Emma also edits for the URI research magazine, Momentum, and hopes to find a career in political reporting upon her graduation in May.