Report a Pothole
Arlington's Water, Sewer, Streets Bureau repairs potholes, replaces damaged roadway sections and performs spot repairs in conjunction with its scheduled slurry and bituminous concrete overlay projects, which help preserve the asphalt base and extend roadway surface life.
Did You Know? The Water, Sewer, Streets Bureau is responsible for the maintenance of 376 miles of roadway in Arlington. The Virginia Department of Transportation and the federal government maintain some familiar roads within the County.
Potholes are created when the top layer of pavement and the material beneath—called the base or sub-base—cannot support the weight of the traffic. Two factors are always present in such a failure: traffic and water.
The gestation period for a pothole includes:
- Snowmelt or rain seeps through cracks in the pavement and into the sub-base. If the moisture cannot adequately drain away from the sub-base and soil underneath, it becomes saturated and soft.
- Trapped moisture is subjected to repeated freeze/thaw cycles. With each occurrence, the expanding ice lifts and cracks the pavement more. The passing traffic weakens the pavement, cracking it further.
- As temperatures rise and the ice melts, a void is left under the pavement. This void collects more water, and during the next freeze, the void will enlarge.
- Vehicles driving over the weakened pavement pound it until the surface breaks and collapses into the void below, creating a pothole.
Pothole patching is performed either as an emergency repair during harsh conditions or as routine maintenance scheduled for warmer and drier periods. Potholes can be reported online or by calling 703-228-5000.
The number of potholes filled each year generally reflects the harshness of each winter and a rise in scheduled repaving (plus the levels of traffic on County streets). In 2017, 2928 potholes were filled. In 2019, 5118 potholes were filled. In 2021 (a pandemic year), 1527 potholes were filled.
Standard pothole repair methods:
- Cold Patch (“Throw-and-roll”): Patching material is shoveled into the pothole—which may or may not be filled with water and debris—and compacted if possible, and crew moves on to next pothole. Cold-patch repairs are quick but temporary; they are an expedient fix performed when traffic, weather and general pavement conditions preclude a more permanent repair.
- Hot Patch semi-permanent: Water and debris are removed from the pothole; the sides of the patch area are squared-up until vertical sides exist in reasonably sound pavement. Tack oil is applied and then a heated asphalt mix is placed and compacted with a small, vibratory device. A slight crown for water dispersal is desirable. Hot Patch is usually done when traffic and weather conditions are more favorable.
- Spray Injection devices: Water and debris are blown from the pothole; a tack coat of binder is sprayed on the sides and bottom of the pothole; asphalt and aggregate are blown into the pothole; the patch is covered with a layer of aggregate. This technique has higher equipment costs but has a higher rate of productivity and lower material costs. Spray-injection is faster than hot-patch repairs and more permanent than cold-patch; however, it is not as durable as or useful as hot-patch for deeper potholes.
- Edge Seal as follow-up: This uses the same method as throw-and-roll, but once the repair section has dried, a second pass is made to place a ribbon of asphaltic tack material on top of the patch edge and pavement surfaces. A layer of sand is placed on the tack material to prevent tracking by tires, and the section is open to traffic as soon as workers and equipment are cleared from the area
Hot-mix asphalt is used to resurface streets in an annual program to replace the top 1 1/2 to 2 inches of asphalt by milling and paving the roadway surface of older, deteriorated streets. The program generally runs from late March through late September, depending in part on weather and contractor availability.
A notice letter will be mailed to all residents included in the paving project map about four to six weeks in advance of the start of the annual paving operation. Door hangers will be distributed to affected residents with more specific information 48 hours prior to the paving of their street. For questions, contact:
Lead Paving Manager: Francis Soulamany at 703-228-7822
View the latest paving maps:
Check Out Our Pavement Conditions Map
Slurry Seal and Microsurfacing
Slurry seal is a water-based, emulsified asphalt mixture spread three-eighths-inch thick over a street surface. It protects streets from water penetration, provides a new wearing surface with improved skid-resistance, and is a quick and economical maintenance strategy. Microsurfacing is a more robust version of slurry seal spread five-eighths-inch thick. Slurry is primarily used on low-volume residential streets whereas microsurfacing is used on moderate- to high-volume arterials. The slurry seal and microsurfacing season runs from July-November.
A notice letter will be mailed to all residents included in the slurry seal and microsurfacing map about four weeks in advance of the start of the annual slurry seal and microsurfacing operation. Door hangers will be distributed to affected residents with more specific information 48 hours prior to the sealing and microsurfacing of their street. For questions, contact Alex Portillo at 703-228-7844.
2022 Slurry Seal and Microsurfacing Map
Hot-mix asphalt and slurry seal can be applied only in warm, dry weather. Unavoidably, there will be one day of delay for each day of rain. Temporary “No Parking” signs will be posted on your block displaying the times and dates work will take place. On a major street, only one lane at a time is resurfaced so that traffic is kept moving. However, residential streets are closed completely to traffic until the new surface is dry. After the signs are removed, you can drive and park on your new resurfaced street. Vehicles parked on the street in work areas during prohibited parking dates will be towed.
Residents can help completion of the surfacing project by:
- Parking vehicles off the street until the new surface is dry, which usually takes four to six hours in dry weather (if you need to drive your car often, consider parking it on a nearby street).
- Refraining from raking grass, leaves or other debris into the street.
- Protecting children from equipment and paving materials for their safety.
The Street Marking Program is responsible for the layout, installation and maintenance of pavement markings. Pavement markings are painted lines, which delineate travel lanes, bikeways, parking stalls and pedestrian crosswalks. Learn more about the following bicycle facility pavement markings found in Arlington:
A sharrow is intended to help motorists and bicyclists safely share and navigate streets. The sharrows show bicyclists where to be in the road (aligned with the middle of the chevron markings), and they remind drivers that the presence of bicyclists is to be expected.
County Brick Pavers and Street Print Ornamentation
The County is phasing out the use of brick pavers, along with similar nostalgic-looking “street print,” an asphalt-pavement product used to define pedestrian crosswalks, medians and neighborhood boundaries.
The cost to maintain such features had become particularly prohibitive when compared with more flexible, resilient and traditional materials. Paver and street-print markings — often in dark, clay-like hues — also failed to generate significant reductions in traffic speeds and demonstrated poor visibility in low light and during precipitation. They also often lost their quaint appearance when street and underground repairs were necessary.
Over time, existing street print and brick paver examples are being replaced as part of the County’s street repaving capital program. Crews now install high-visibility white thermo-plastic markings that are extremely reflective — particularly at night and in rain, and, with less needed maintenance, more cost-effective.
The Neighborhood Traffic Calming (NTC) and Neighborhood Conservation (NC) programs often incorporated street print from 2000 to 2012.