Potholes and sinkholes may have similar appearances but their causes are different. Both are deformations in the pavement that collect water, can be jarring to hit, and in extreme cases, cause damage to our cars.
Water, freezing temperatures and vehicle loads can combine to break apart the surface of a pavement. These can rapidly develop into potholes that range in severity from a nuisance to a significant safety problem. Street maintenance has crews that are out daily as weather allows looking for and patching potholes. In warm weather most potholes are patched with hot asphalt, but in winter months the potholes are patched with temporary cold asphalt to make the street safe until warm weather allows for a more permanent repair.
Occasionally a problem will occur beneath a street where soil washes away. This usually occurs when a break occurs to an underground pipe. The pavement will settle into the void, creating a sinkhole. The initial appearance of a sinkhole is similar to a pothole. Street Maintenance and other agencies will investigate all suspected sinkholes for underlying problems and then perform a permanent repair to utilities if warranted and then the pavement.