Minneapolis rolls out plan to patch potholes

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Minneapolis is experiencing its most serious pothole season in about a decade, Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher said in a press conference the department held alongside Mayor Jacob Frey Tuesday.

The city has a plan to repair the roads after winter weather wreaked havoc, but it will require patience, Frey said.

“Potholes form when water enters the cracks in the streets, freezes, expands and then displaces the pavement,” Public Works transportation & maintenance repair director Joe Paumen explained. “We’ve all put something in our freezer that’s carbonated and we all know what happens. It’s basically the same principle with potholes.”

Until that cycle stops, city leaders say they can’t fully fix the problem.

“So in the meantime, what we’re adding is this asphalt-gravel mixture to all of these potholes,” Frey said.

That mixture is called ‘cold patch,’ and Kelliher said her department will be pouring about 250 tons of it in the next couple of weeks. She and Frey joined in as the first few potholes were ceremoniously filled following the announcement.

“Those filled potholes will pop up again,” Kelliher said. “It’s just kind of repeated process until we can get the hot patch in our hands.”

That’ll be a more permanent solution, lasting up to a couple of years, she said.

When asked if Minneapolis is considering asphalt alternatives that would be less susceptible to freeze/thaw cycles as city officials expect to spend $1 million more than its usual $1.3-$1.5 million a year on street repairs, Kelliher responded, “There’s actually a number of things happening nationally on studying of materials.”

The Public Works Director referenced road research MnDOT has been doing since the mid-1990s, most recently testing road made of recyclables on a 3.5 mile stretch of I-94 in Wright County.

“But there’s nothing exactly there, right now, today that we could utilize,” Kelliher concluded.

Public Works plans to switch from the cold to more permanent hot patch when it becomes available for the season in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, Kelliher encouraged reporting potholes in Minneapolis by calling 311. Throw in a ‘thank you’ to the crews working overtime and weekends to patch them, the mayor added.