The Worst Place for Potholes in Colorado

You'll be seeing a lot more of these in the coming days.
You'll be seeing a lot more of these in the coming days.
Colorado Department of Transportation

Spring is pothole season in Colorado, with the rainy weather much of the state has experienced over the past few days exacerbating the vehicle-abusing phenomenon. And while most roadways in the state are susceptible to hosting potholes, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Transportation says one area in the system is consistently the worst.

"The section of I-70 from about Idaho Springs west to the Eisenhower Tunnel tends to have a lot of problems due to a lot of traffic, including truck traffic, and the variations in the weather," notes CDOT communications manager Bob Wilson. "This time of year, we can have sunshine one day, freezing temperatures and snow the next. That creates a lot of potholes because of the freeze-thaw cycle."

The photos scattered at the top and bottom of this post testify to the phenomenon, which is most acute on the busiest highways at higher elevations, Wilson notes. "Down here in Denver, we're out of the freezing season for the most part — although we did have a recent day when it dipped below 32 degrees. But it's still prevalent up in the high country."

Of course, there's no shortage of potholes on highways that run through the metro area, as illustrated by this photo of a pothole that opened up on I-70 in Aurora between Colfax Avenue and Tower Road.

This pothole was located on I-70 between Tower Road and Colfax in Aurora.
This pothole was located on I-70 between Tower Road and Colfax in Aurora.
Colorado Department of Transportation

Since the photo above was taken, Wilson reveals, the area was "reconstructed with concrete, so we don't have that problem there anymore. With concrete, you might get cracking, but not so many potholes."

Colfax itself is also a pothole haven, which is why, Wilson says, "We're going to be paving a very long stretch this summer, beginning at the viaduct at Galapago east to Colorado Boulevard."

Like Colfax, plenty of major Denver cross streets, including Federal, Sheridan and Wadsworth, are designated as state highways, placing them under CDOT's umbrella — "and they all have their trouble spots," Wilson concedes, "especially with water-pooling. That can create a pothole in short order. And after we get through this wave of rain, we can expect quite a few potholes to develop over the next couple of weeks, because of the moisture we're getting a little early in the monsoon season."

CDOT has maintenance agreements with Denver and other municipalities for fixing potholes on many routes through the city. But on the main highway system, its own crews are in charge of filling the gaps, as it were.

CDOT crews try to patch potholes as soon as possible after receiving reports.
CDOT crews try to patch potholes as soon as possible after receiving reports.
Colorado Department of Transportation

The department relies on members of the public to sound the alert when potholes pop up by contacting the agency; this page on the CDOT website is a good place to start.

"Once we know about a pothole, we can get crews out fairly quickly," Wilson says. "And the sooner we can get on them, the better."

One piece of bad news: If you damage your car hitting a pothole on a CDOT-controlled roadway, the department is unlikely to pay for repairs.

"There are times when it'll get covered on our end in construction zones, because contractors are required to carry insurance," he notes. But as far as us covering the average pothole, no — unless it was something that had been reported a long time ago and there was any show of negligence on our end due to not getting it filled. But that's pretty rare. As soon as we know where a pothole is in need of filling, we try to fill it."

Look below to see more potholes from I-70 west of Denver.

The Worst Place for Potholes in Colorado (4)
Colorado Department of Transportation
The Worst Place for Potholes in Colorado (5)
Colorado Department of Transportation
The Worst Place for Potholes in Colorado (6)
Colorado Department of Transportation
The Worst Place for Potholes in Colorado (7)
Colorado Department of Transportation

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