Campus pothole repairs to begin by end of week as asphalt plants reopen

Filling potholes around campus has become a part of the transition from winter to spring.

Andrea Schug

As temperatures continue to rise, the thawing snow will continue to expose evidence of the beating that roads endured this winter. Filling the countless potholes around campus has become an annual part of the transition from winter to spring, and the project may begin at the end of the week. Monday marked the opening of one of the Twin CitiesâÄô hot mix asphalt plants in St. Paul. In previous years, the first asphalt plants opened near the end of March, but because of the extensive need for road repairs this year, St. Paul decided to open a plant early. âÄúWe experienced a real Minnesota winter,âÄù said Art Kistler, University of Minnesota maintenance manager for Parking and Transportation Services. âÄúWeâÄôve had snow on the ground ever since the first snowfall, ensuring that the roads will suffer.âÄù Mark Bridden, co-owner of Como Imports, said the number of cars they have serviced for pothole-related repairs has been much higher this year than last. âÄúNormally we get one or two cars for the season, but I would say weâÄôve seen 15, maybe 20 so far,âÄù he said. Bridden said the worst incident he has seen this year occurred last week when a University student hit a pothole so hard that both of the tires on the right side of her car blew and both right-side wheels were bent. âÄúIt was an $850 repair,âÄù Bridden said. âÄúThat was a costly repair, but usually people end up spending at least $100.âÄù Management sophomore Taylor Stevenson said she has run into problems driving around campus each day. âÄúIâÄôm always swerving not to hit the potholes,âÄù Stevenson said. âÄúIf thereâÄôs a lot of traffic, you just have to go through them, and then I have to constantly fill up my tires because I lose air.âÄù Kistler said that throughout the winter months he compiles a list of the potholes around campus. This list is the starting point when the holes begin to be filled in the spring. âÄúThe whole process of filling potholes tends to be cyclical because of the nature of the beast,âÄù Kistler said. âÄúMost of the problems happen on streets with heavy traffic, and on streets with this much traffic itâÄôs hard to get in and do work.âÄù The University works with Allied Blacktop Co. to get the job done, Kistler said. âÄúRight now weâÄôre waiting for some melting to occur, because itâÄôs hard to get patches to last for a long time when thereâÄôs moisture on the asphalt,âÄù Dan Smith, co-owner of Allied Blacktop Co., said. Hot mix asphalt plants in the Twin Cities shut down in late November and open up again in March, said Smith. When hot mix is unavailable from December to February, potholes normally go unfixed. If a pothole is causing a lot of problems, cold mix can be used as a temporary fix. âÄúThe difference between the two mixes is that cold mix is not going to last,âÄù Smith said. âÄúItâÄôs almost guaranteed that youâÄôre going to come back and fill the hole days or weeks later.âÄù The three-month span of untreated roads increases the likelihood of car damage, he said. According to Smith, the beginning of spring is the hardest time to patch the potholes because melting snow is constantly filling the potholes and freezing at night, expanding the existing holes and creating new ones, making the problem even bigger. Despite this problem, Smith said he wants to make sure his company is out there as soon as the roads are ready. âÄúIâÄôd love to send a crew to the U today âÄî IâÄôd love to send out a crew every day,âÄù Smith said. âÄúBut the patches wouldnâÄôt last. It wouldnâÄôt be good use of resources. WeâÄôll have to wait a couple days.âÄù Weather permitting, Kistler said Allied Blacktop Co. will start filling up potholes later this week.