Pothole Repair

To report a pothole for repair, you can either fill out an online Maintenance Request form, or call the TDOT Road Repair Hotline at 833-TDOTFIX (836-8349).  Be sure to note the exact location including the route, mile marker, and any nearby cross streets or interchanges.

If drivers hit a pothole and experience damage to their vehicle, they may submit a damage claim. Claims are investigated on a case-by-case basis through the Tennessee Department of Treasury. For more information about what is required please see the FAQ section below.

Pothole FAQs

Potholes are created when moisture seeps into the pavement, freezes, expands and then thaws. This weakens the pavement. Traffic loosens it even more, and it eventually crumbles and pops out. The graphic on this page illustrates how potholes form.

Spring temperatures warm the cold pavement, melting and evaporating any ice. This creates air pockets that can eventually cause the pavement to break up. A winter of heavy snow or rain and several freeze-thaw cycles can mean a big pothole season ahead.

The pothole is carved out to create a neat rectangle. When the excess asphalt is removed, an adhesive is applied and asphalt is added in layers. It is leveled off and compacted with a pavement roller.

There are several reasons why a newly filled pothole may reopen:

  • When conditions are cold or wet, the material used to patch potholes doesn’t stick as well to the surrounding pavement as when conditions are dry and warm.
  • During the winter months, asphalt plants are closed and hot asphalt is not available until the spring. In the meantime, we will typically use a material called “cold mix” which isn’t always as durable.
  • If the cause of the pothole is not corrected, such as water getting under the pavement, pothole patches may fail, or more potholes may form. The long-term solution is to repair and repave the road.

Ultimately, our goal is safety and we must repair potholes as soon as possible.

Roads with high traffic volumes have more potholes because of the amount of use. Bridges and ramps, which receive heavy doses of snow-removal chemicals in the winter, are more prone to potholes.

Roads today are built to reduce moisture capacity, and researchers are working to develop better, more durable pavement materials and designs. Researchers also have improved the cold-patch asphalt so those patches last longer.

If drivers hit a pothole and experience damage to their vehicle, they may submit a damage claim. Claims are investigated on a case-by-case basis through the Tennessee Department of Treasury. Examiners review the circumstances, the type and location of the pothole, determine if TDOT had been previously notified of the issue, and if crews had been given a reasonable amount of time to repair the pothole.

  • As the claimant, you will be required to prove your claim, by providing the following:
    Proof of the incident directly causing the alleged damage;
    The exact location where the incident occurred and records of your repairs;
    Evidence that the state was aware of the dangerous road condition prior to your incident; and
    Evidence that the state could have repaired the dangerous road condition prior to your incident and neglected to do so.
Birth of a Pothole

Birth of a Pothole


The Birth of a Pothole
- Step 1

Potholes begin after snow or rain seeps into the soil below the road surface.


The Birth of a Pothole - Step 2

The moisture freezes when temperatures drop, causing the ground to expand and push the pavement up.


The Birth of a Pothole
- Step 3

As the temperatures rise, the ground returns to normal level but the pavement often remains raised. This creates a gap between the pavement and the ground below it.


The Birth of a Pothole
- Step 4

When vehicles drive over this cavity, the pavement surface cracks and falls into the hollow space leading to the birth of another pothole.