Ascension pothole repairs hindered by wet weather

State highway officials said Tuesday that heavy rain has hindered their ability to repair potholes cropping up in the construction zone of a $17 million widening project on La. 73 in Ascension Parish.

But officials with the state Department of Transportation and Development said their contractor would repair the problems when the rain subsides and the area dries out.

The contractor has been using hot mix or cold mix asphalt at night or during breaks in the weather to fill and patch the potholes, DOTD officials said.

“With all of the recent rains, they are having difficulty making the repairs hold because the asphalt will not stick due to the water,” Brendan Rush, DOTD spokesman, said in an emailed update Tuesday.

“We will continue to monitor these areas, and as soon as it dries up enough, the contractor will be able to make more substantial repairs.”

Rush wrote that he provided the update Tuesday because DOTD had received “several calls and emails about the condition of La. 73.”

DOTD is widening La. 73 from two to three lanes over a 2.3-mile stretch between Airline Highway and a point just east of Interstate 10 in Prairieville. Work began in October 2011 and is expected to be finished in the fall of 2013, the DOTD website says.

The potholes, which vary in size, have formed in weakened spots of asphalt since the contractor, Barber Bros. Contracting Co. LLC, removed, or “milled,” the top 2 inches of asphalt from the road surface, Rush wrote.

He said Tuesday that milling is a standard practice to even off the road surface for the new layer of asphalt and to find any spots in the road subsurface that need repairs.

He said several weeks of rainy weather happened to follow the milling work and any problems on the road were accentuated last week when a powerful storm front dumped more rain on the region.

According to the National Weather Service, 10.64 inches of rain fell in Gonzales between the mornings of Jan. 8 and 12.

Rush said the contractor was able to make some repairs during the weekend that have held up.

“It is supposed to stop raining on Thursday, and then over the weekend, we’re supposed to get some dry weather, which will allow the contractor to make more substantial repairs,” Rush said.