CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Crews with the West Virginia Division of Highways are planning a multimillion-dollar effort to fix pothole damage across the state.
Tending to winter roads always leads to wear and tear, but successive heavy winter storms this year have taken a harsh toll on roads, officials said.
"These potholes are the worst our maintenance crews have seen in years," said Department of Transportation spokeswoman Carrie Bly.
Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox met with senior officials in the state's 10 highways districts in early February to hash out a strategy to patch the pothole problem.
"Internally, we've called it a pothole blitz," Bly said. "It's our pothole plan of attack."
The state has spent an average of $18 million a year on pothole repair in the last three years.
About $9 million already has been spent on the program during the current fiscal year, which began July 1, and officials are diverting an additional $12 million aimed strictly at fixing potholes.
Officials want to repair the potholes as quickly as possible but temperatures need to be in the 40s and 50s consistently for that work to be done.
Workers caught a break on Thursday when temperatures broke into the 50s for many parts of the state. Crews fanned out to conduct spot repairs on some of the worst potholes on heavily trafficked roads.
"They're going out to the worst of the worst," Bly said. "The tire-busting potholes are the concentration right now."
For now, the work highways crews are doing is what's known as "cold patching," meaning the spot repairs are just temporary patches.
Bly said that's because the hot asphalt used for permanent fixes isn't readily available right now. Asphalt plants close in the winter and typically don't open until April.
Officials have been in contact with asphalt companies in an attempt to get them to open sooner. They're optimistic they can convince some of the plants to open sometime this month.