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(Enlarge) A driver approaches a pothole in the 24-hour Shoppette parking lot located off MacAuthur Road May 21. The garrison command has issued funding approval to repave much of the lot this summer. (Photo by Joyce P. Brayboy)

Visitors to the 24-hour Shoppette on MacArthur Road have rolled over rocky asphalt in the parking lot since last year. But that will soon change.

The garrison recently granted funding approval for an estimated $337,000 project to repave a large portion of the parking lot, following the last board review, said Charles G. Huggard, contracting officer representative and engineering technician with the Directorate of Public Works.

"It was a relief," said Shoppette manager Marilyn Miyasato.

As the Shoppette management devises ways to serve patrons with minimal disruptions, the contract for this project will be finalized in the next couple of weeks, said Huggard. Work will then be scheduled for middle to late summer.

Although DPW and Shoppette management will work together to avoid closure during the process, the project may cause a bit of parking inconvenience.

"It's going to be a little tight in the parking area once the project begins," Huggard said. "The contractors will probably have to repave one section at a time."

Huggard estimates that, in an ideal situation, the project could be completed in about a month. Rain could delay the process, he said. The repaved parking lot will be worth the wait.

Miyasato, who has fielded an increasing number of patron concerns about the issue, said driving in the Shoppette parking lot has been an ongoing issue.

"It affects the tires and suspension of my car," said Jeffrey McClendon, a garrison employee. "I try to avoid the potholes when I come here."

Many motorists rush straight through without considering that they could bend a rim or break an axle, Miyasato said. Too, every time someone drives over a pothole, the vehicle kicks up more gravel and the hole deepens.

"It's pretty bad," said Terri Fleming, a family member who resides on post. "It's bad in a lot of places on the roads. I think it's great that we have the funds to fix it."

Although none of the patrons have reported vehicle damage so far, Miyasato said she does not like to take chances. It is a high-traffic area with a constant flow of people driving in and out of the parking lot.

"I think people have been very patient considering the circumstances," she said.

The pothole situation started to deteriorate in December. Initially, temporary cold patches were placed over the potholes to lessen the problem, she said. But the cold patches did not work well and longer-lasting hot patches were not available that time of year.

February's freezing temperatures exacerbated pothole problems, Installation Commander Col. Daniel L. Thomas explained in a March Soundoff! column. The snow fell into fatigued fractures on the roadway surface as plows pushed it off the roads, taking chips of asphalt along with it. The combination of the heavy snow and snow removal on some roads left gaping holes in places around post.

Once the weather broke, hot asphalt patches, along with steel plates in places with severe pothole damage, were laid.

DPW contacted the Shoppette when the directorate began taking steps in March to have the parking lot resurfaced, Miyasato said. DPW elevated the issue priority from its initial standing following a damage assessment.

The majority of the parking lot was found to have structural damage, Huggard said. If a contractor simply made repairs to the potholes, the same problems would most likely resurface in a couple of years, he said.

When asphalt surface has failed to the point that patches will not work, as is the case in parts of the Shoppette parking lot, the entire surface must be repaved.

"At the project's conclusion," Huggard said, "you will see a new paved surface with no loose gravel, steel plates or patches."

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