UDOT workers brave traffic and weather to fill potholes

Apr 20, 2023, 6:49 PM | Updated: 8:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The maintenance crews that patch the potholes for the Utah Department of Transportation said they’ve never seen the roads so badly beaten.  When they’re not plowing the roads, the same workers are filling the potholes, and they haven’t had much of a break from either.

A KSL-TV crew went on a ride along with a UDOT maintenance crew as they were ‘chasing potholes’ as they call it.  They try to do as much as they can without shutting down lanes and it can get a little dicey that close to traffic.  

“This winter has been a rough one,” Stephan Foster, the UDOT Station Foreman for Salt Lake Central told KSL. 

Thursday, they were tackling some of the toughest stretches of potholes on the Wasatch Front on Interstate-215 and S.R. 201 on the west side.  They were focused on the surface of the bridges, which especially take a beating from the freeze and thaw cycle. 

“We call them ‘throw and goes.’  We just get the material out there, get it compacted down,” said Foster. 

Cars and trucks finish the job as they drive over the temporary cold patch of asphalt.  The temporary patch smooths the surface until they can put in a permanent patch when warmer weather allows.

“The salt we put down, and the plows, and traffic itself has done a number on our roadways,” Foster said. 

They’ve never counted more potholes or snowstorms. 

“During the winter, we’re plowing. During the summer chasing potholes,” Will Maumau said. He’s one of the UDOT maintenance workers dodging traffic to patch the holes.

“We pothole more than we plow,” Foster said.

They have been patching potholes all winter, filling many of the same holes week after week.

“Just trying to keep the roads safe for the public,” Maumau said. 

The workers went through a six-month supply of cold patch asphalt in just three months. They can be called out for patching or plowing at just about any time.

“Potholes are an around-the-clock thing,” Foster said. 

They work quickly and keep a close eye on each other for safety, as cars speed by at highway speeds. 

“It’s scary,” Maumau said. “But it comes with the territory. It comes with the job, safety first. If we need a slowdown, we will call it in.“

They called in a UHP slowdown for part of the job on S.R. 201. Maumau said he likes the variety of his job, and he suspects he’ll be behind the wheel of his plow again this spring.

“More than likely probably another one or two storms.“

The pothole crews put up warning lights and are present pretty easy to spot on the side of the road.  They asked the public to please slow down and move over because it’s a dangerous job.

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UDOT workers brave traffic and weather to fill potholes