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Pipes, potholes keep Brookhaven’s Public Works Department hopping

Unusually cold weather has driven many people indoors since Sunday, and frosty conditions have wreaked havoc on public infrastructure.

According to Brookhaven Public Works Director Keith Lewis, the recent cold snap has taken a heavy toll on many of the city’s busiest streets.

“We’ve definitely noticed more potholes emerging,” he said. “The roads have really suffered with all the ice and freezing temperatures.”

Problems arise when water settles into asphalt fissures before a big chill. As temperatures drop, that water swells and turns to ice, thus weakening the blacktop’s structural integrity.

“Water freezes into cracks and makes the asphalt crumble,” Lewis said.

Potholes develop after several days of freezing and thawing — as ice cyclically expands and contracts inside of pavement.

Broken blacktop can make for rough rides in automobiles, but, luckily for local motorists, Lewis and his team are well equipped to tackle roadway damage.

“For the really big potholes, we take a milling machine and fill them with some new hot mix,” he said.

With so much to do, Brookhaven’s public works department has stayed busy over the past week, coping with weather-beaten streets and fractured water lines.

“So far, we’ve had a 4-inch main water line bust on North Jackson Street,” Lewis said.

His team has also dealt with several residential and commercial water issues since temperatures began dropping.

“In the last several days, the police department has sent us out to cut people’s water meters off because of burst pipes,” he said.

With meteorologists calling for sub-freezing temperatures for the rest of the week, Lewis asks area residents to take suitable precautions in order to preserve the reliability of Brookhaven’s water system.

“If you’re not going to be home or at your business, remember to keep the heat on and run your water,” he said. “A lot of the damaged pipes we’ve seen have resulted from people forgetting to do that.”

Lewis also encourages individuals to alert the public works department whenever they come across damaged infrastructure.

“The best thing to do if you see a pothole is to call the city clerk’s office and let them know,” he said. “They will direct your call to the city barn, and we can take care of the problem. Also remember to slow down and watch for any potholes. The weather really has caused some problems for our streets.”

The Brookhaven City Clerk’s Office can be reached at 601-833-2362 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.