This winter's weather is taking a toll on highways and byways in East Tennessee. The constant rain, freeze, and thaw have created a moonscape of potholes along several miles of interstate.
On Thursday eastbound traffic tip-toed along on Interstate 40 through most of Sevier County. Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) reduced eastbound traffic to one lane while crews patched potholes.
"Our TDOT workers are out there looking for any potholes up and down the interstate. This is our busiest time of year," said TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi. "What they are able to do right now is a temporary fix. This isn't the time of year when they're making the proper asphalt to permanently fix the potholes."
TDOT will be able to do more permanent repairs in a few months when temperatures are consistently warmer. For now, the temporary fixes at least prevent permanent damage to wheels and tires.
The recent combination of rain, ice, and rough roads sent a flood of customers to Fisher Tire in Knoxville.
"We got half a dozen cars yesterday from the pothole there on I-640," said Bob Fisher, owner of Fisher Tire. "That impact causes sidewall separation and sometimes a really bad pothole can bend a wheel and ruin the wheel as well."
Even if you steer clear of potholes and avoid ruined rims, TDOT says drivers should be ready to run into rolling lane reductions while crews make repairs on the interstates.
"There may be some intermittent lane closures for them [crews] to run out there and patch the potholes quickly," said Nagi. "I certainly think that drivers need to be aware of that possibility. People can also call us to report potholes. They can call 865-594-2456, report where you are seeing the pothole, when you saw it, and we'll get out there and fix it."