When the weather flips between freezing and warm like it has the past few weeks, it creates and worsens potholes on the roads. These potholes have already blown out tires and damaged vehicles that tried to drive over them in Franklin township.

The township's Francis Road has been an issue for years now, according to residents Erie News Now spoke with, but right now it's worse than ever. Franklin township has mostly dirt roads and they face different challenges than asphalt roads.

The township's new Road Master James Sachar said dirt roads become soft when they get wet from rain and snow, which then makes them more malleable. When dirt becomes mud, the chances of potholes forming as vehicles drive over the road increase.

"Basically what we're going to try to do is a lot of light surface work," Sachar said, "and add a limestone mixed with 2RC to try to at least get a passable center lane down the road." The 2RC is a road base and fill material that's coarse and used to fix potholes on dirt roads.

When it comes to asphalt roads, potholes aren't as easily formed as on wet dirt roads, but can be just as dangerous. Water fills in cracks in the pavement, freezes and expands. After expanding, it weakens and breaks the asphalt and a pothole forms.

To lessen the chances of a tire blowout or damage to the vehicle, PennDOT recommends being extra cautious. "If you encounter an area that has been roughed up by the winter weather, then you would want to slow down so you can react and so that you can make sure that if you need to move about in your lane that you're able to do that properly," PennDOT's Jill Harry said.

Both townships and PennDOT survey their roads for damage to keep track of spots to keep an eye on and to prioritize repairs. PennDOT typically prioritizes the interstate first, then other heavily traveled routes.

However, emergencies and areas that need immediate attention are handled before the interstate when they arise. "We send crews out, they walk down the roadway, they put coal patch in the holes until a permanent repairs can be completed," Jim Shaut, Senior Highway Maintenance Manager for PennDOT's District 1, said.

Each township handles their roads in their own way, but in Franklin township the Road Master says he's trying to take a proactive approach to their road care. "Hopefully tomorrow until the roads freeze I can get some material down, get holes filled, and if the material freezes in the holes we might be alright," Sachar said.

Sachar spent a few days last week surveying the township's roads so he could prioritize which areas needed attention the most. That way when the weather breaks, he and his crews can start patching the roads and make them more drivable.

If you come across a large pothole or problem with a road, call the township in charge of the road or PennDOT if it is a state route. PennDOT's customer care center has a phone number (814) 678-7085 or submit a complaint online. The online portal has a tracking system similar to that used when shipping a package and can show progress of when it will be addressed.