Minneapolis gets an early start on work to permanently patch potholes

Minneapolis is getting an early start on permanent pothole patching this year, thanks to good weather and the early availability of asphalt and other materials needed to make long-term fixes to city streets. Crews have been doing temporary patching of potholes for several weeks, and the partial switch to permanent patching is coming much earlier than normal. Typically, crews are not able to begin permanent patching work until April.

Starting March 15, Minneapolis has assembled a pothole patch and repair crew to make permanent patches to streets. In order to reach as many parts of the city as possible, six other mini-crews will continue making temporary patches until early April, or as weather permits. At that time, the City will switch to the normal summer maintenance season schedule and have up to eight crews working on permanent patches and other street repairs around the city.

Temporary patches are made during the winter months so our roads will be more drivable until permanent patches can be performed once the weather improves. Because asphalt is not available during winter months, crews use a "cold mix," which provides a temporary patch that has a fairly short lifespan, but that still makes roads more drivable.

Until asphalt is available from the normal commercial suppliers, Minneapolis buys its asphalt from the City of Saint Paul asphalt plant, which opened early this year, at the beginning of March. The availability of asphalt, along with other needed materials, means crews can now make high quality, permanent repairs to some of the most problematic areas. Permanent repairs mean cleaning and "prepping" the pothole with liquid asphalt cement that acts like a glue, and then applying, rolling and compacting the asphalt for a long lasting repair. Because this is more labor intensive, it is slower going, but crews will not have to make return trips.

The extraordinary weather and precipitation conditions we have experienced this winter led to significant pothole problems all around the metro area, and cities across the state are doing street maintenance with fewer resources because of state budget cuts. Since potholes are popping up or reappearing on streets all over Minneapolis, it’s not possible for crews to address all problems at once. City pothole patch crews need to prioritize, weighing in factors such as the amount of traffic a street carries, and the severity of a particular pothole problem.

Residents who want to report potholes can call 311 or go online to the 311 page of the City's website. Calling in potholes will help Public Works better understand and prioritize pothole repairs. Initially, crews will focus their work on major arterials, and will later in the season move onto residential streets.

In addition to pothole patching, Minneapolis has plans to reconstruct, renovate, or resurface about 35 miles of streets this year, including several streets that will be resurfaced as part of the Mayor’s Accelerated Infrastructure Program, which the City Council approved in 2008. Also, many more miles of city streets will be seal-coated this summer. Both of these activities work to prevent potholes from occurring as well as extend the life of the street.

Published Mar 16, 2010

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