By MARK F. GRAY, AFRO Staff Writer,

The epidemic of potholes in Prince George’s County continues to wreak havoc on automobiles and drivers.  Frustrations continue to mount as the traffic delays from repairs that are not affecting the quality of the roads only add to the concern from drivers who can’t avoid the land mines that are damaging vehicles from Baltimore Washington Parkway to Oxon Hill.

A broadcast report on NBC-4 in Washington painted an ominous picture of just how dangerous travel conditions are especially on the Parkway where crater-sized holes that are undetectable, especially at night, are leading to dangerous conditions.  The unavoidable potholes are a major concern because when motorists are traveling and looking at the roads ahead, it is impossible to them particularly after sundown.

The Baltimore Washington Parkway has become the site of some of the worst potholes in the area, causing major damage to vehicles.  (Courtesy Photo)

Motorist Jeanine Jackson told NBC 4 her car got a flat because a pothole gashed her tire.  Jackson also said she worried that the severity of the issue isn’t being taken seriously enough by those who are responsible for the repairs.

“I think the sign actually said rough road. No, it should actually say, ‘Road with deep potholes. Be careful,” Jackson said.

Drivers have been urging authorities to increase the repairs to begin, but the National Park Service, who is responsible for the Parkway’s maintenance, claims they are working as fast as they can but they need help from Mother Nature.  A consistent stretch of warm weather would help to expedite the repairs.  However, there are reports that blizzard conditions are forming in the southwestern U.S., which may affect this area next week and cause more delays to the repair efforts.

There figures to be an increase in the number of potholes on area roads as the days get longer and the temperatures warmup.   Potholes are caused when the treatments, such as rock salt that road crews use to prepare for inclement winter weather adversely affect pavement.  When the roads are treated in the cold weather that makes them safer to drive, but the rock salt gets embedded into the roadways, which causes an expansion or sinking of the ground.

While potholes are part of the rites of passage for winter drivers, most experts now acknowledge that this year’s epidemic is worse than ever.  Motorists have begun taking to social media to express their displeasure with how long it is taking repairs to be made on these heavily traveled roads.

“It’s the worst part of my commute.  Both the north and southbound is an assault on my tires and suspension,” said Twitter user Natty B. “Lowering the speed limit does not alleviate the damage!”

Driving into a pothole can cause significant damage leading to expensive repairs.  Blown tires, bent wheel rims, or damage to the car’s suspension system can cost motorists an average of $500-$1200.  While that may be a dilemma for some, it has become a boom for those who specialize in automotive repairs. Mechanic Dave Testa told NBC 4 many cars have pulled into his shop right off of BW Parkway recently due to the potholes.

“It is the worst I’ve ever seen,” Testa said.  “I had one person here this morning driving a Chevy Astro van and he said he hit a pothole and went off the road and went into the woods.”

On March 2, the National Park Service announced the speed limit on a six-mile stretch of the Parkway was lowered from 55 mph to 40 mph because of potholes and poor road conditions.  The Park Service said road crews are vigilant working to fill the potholes. Since late January, crews have filled potholes with more than 60 tons of asphalt on Parkway alone.