Throughout harsh winter, city crews have patched more than 10,000 potholes

photo by: Mike Yoder

In this file photo from February 2011, two employees with the Lawrence public works department patch up a pothole near the intersection of Ridge Court and 27th Street.

If Lawrence motorists feel like they’re hitting more potholes — or swerving to avoid more of them — they may be right.

So far this year, city road crews have had to patch more than 10,000 potholes. City officials say that because of the amount of snowfall this winter, the city has patched almost as many potholes in the first three months of the year as it did in all of 2018.

Municipal Services and Operations Deputy Director Mike Lawless said the harsher-than-usual winter, particularly compared with recent years, has been hard on the roads.

“We’ve had more snow this year than the last three winters combined, so that certainly plays into it,” Lawless said.

Specifically, Lawless said the city has patched 10,630 potholes so far this year compared to about 11,000 potholes patched in 2018. He said that number does not represent the number of unique potholes in Lawrence, as some potholes have needed to be patched more than once.

However, now that the weather is warmer, Lawless said the number of patches will begin to taper off because the city will be able to use hot-mix asphalt, a more permanent patching method. During the winter months, the city must use cold patch asphalt — an oily, softer mix of asphalt that can be used in freezing temperatures — which only temporarily repairs the pothole.

MSO Street Division Manager Bob Brower explained that with each snow or ice storm, moisture gets into the cracks of the road, expanding and contracting as temperatures change and breaking up the roadway.

“With the freeze (and) thaw that we’ve had, it’s been really bad this year,” Brower said. “And that’s caused the pavement to heave in spots, which makes the pothole.”

Brower said that this winter, there were 11 snow or ice storms that required city crews to treat the roadways. He said the 10,630 potholes patched so far this year have required 240 tons of cold patch asphalt and cost the city $137,700 in labor, material and equipment costs.

The city doesn’t have an estimate of how many potholes still need to be patched, but Brower said that Monday the city received between 100 and 150 pothole repair requests from Lawrence residents, some of which could represent duplicates. He said those repair requests go on a list and that city crews try to repair potholes on major streets within 24 to 48 hours.

Going forward, Lawless said that the city will have to mill some roadways and roll out new, more permanent hot-mix asphalt in some of the pothole areas. He said the potholes will be taken into account as city crews rate streets this year in preparation for upcoming roadwork. Deeper potholes have more of an impact on the life of the road, Lawless said, with potholes that affect the substructure of the road being more severe.

Residents can report a pothole by filling out a form on the city’s website or by calling the city’s Pothole Reporting line at 832-3456.


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