It’s pothole season
It’s pothole season again — time for motorists to dance around those jarring annoyances, and hope there’s not one hidden under that puddle in the road.
“We were out on Monday doing cold patches, and we were out doing hot patches Tuesday and Wednesday — they last longer,” said Jona Jacobson, maintenance supervisor for the Becker County Highway Department.
The cold patches are used “in the dead of winter” and dumped in the pot hole and left there. The hot mix bonds better with the pavement, but requires warmer temperatures.
The county highway department fixed potholes on county roads within cities, including Audubon, Frazee and Washington Avenue and West Lake Drive in Detroit Lakes — it was especially bad from Frazee Street to West Lake Drive in the Zorbaz area, Jacobson said.
The highway department finds potholes both from feedback from the public and reports from county staff, and often they are in the usual high-traffic areas.
This year they were especially bad, since it’s been a long, hard winter, Jacobson said. Older pavement has taken an especially hard beating in this season’s freeze-thaw cycle, which will continue until the snow is gone and nighttime temperatures stay above freezing.
Detroit Lakes city workers have also been patching potholes, heating up “cold patch” material and the receiving potholes with gas torches.
But it’s a short-term fix, said Public Works Director Brad Green. “They pop out easy because of the time of year,” he said.
When the temperatures get up to the 60s and 70s the city will fix the holes by spraying them with CR2, a heavy, sticky oil that is caped with granite chips, much like the sealcoating process.
“We do that all summer,” Green said, “try to seal cracks up so moisture doesn’t get in,” thus preventing potholes in the first place. “That’s why we’re so aggressive on that,” he added.
City workers have also started opening up snowed-in, frozen storm drains.
“We have 1,500 catch basins in town, so it takes a while to get to them,” Green said. Residents with storm drains off their property can help the city — and prevent street flooding outside their homes — by opening up those storm drains themselves.
“Just go out and chop ice,” Green said.
City workers are also still busy moving loads of snow out of parking lots, he said.
“It’s kind of a catch-22,” Green said. “We’re dealing with ice on the storm drains in the morning, and at noon when it warms up, we’re sweeping out the potholes, vaporizing the moisture with a torch, and patching them.”
To report potholes or street flooding, email the city at dlpublic firstname.lastname@example.org.
County workers are similarly busy with frozen, snowed-in culverts, Jacobson said.
“If they freeze up, you get water across roads,” he said Friday. “We were out there today steaming a few pipes.”
The spring thaw could be delayed a bit. Daytime temperatures are forecast to drop below freezing into the mid 20s Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, followed by daytime highs in the low 40s the next few days.
“The longer the snow stays, the quicker it will go,’ said Jacobson.
If residents on county roads notice problems with culverts or potholes, they should let the highway department know.
“If they see water coming over the road, don’t be afraid to let us know … if there are issues on county roads, let us know and we’ll look into it.”
County workers will start crack-filling on Monday, pouring in rubber in preperation for seal-coating later in the summer.
It may seem early for such work, but Jacobson said the process has actually been delayed a few weeks because of the tough winter.
“It’s usually mid-March when we start it,” he said.
Spring load restrictions on county roads went into effect Friday, and roads are in the process of being posted. The county bases its restrictions on regional restrictions posted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which in turn are based on frost levels, Jacobson said.