Public Safety

Plagued by potholes: Wicked winter gnarls Corridor roadways

Have a pothole problem? Help us identify the worst potholes in the area

Vehicles drive past potholes on Gilbert Street in Iowa City on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Vehicles drive past potholes on Gilbert Street in Iowa City on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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If it seems like the potholes on your commute are bigger and more abundant this year, it’s because winter has not afforded road crews much time to manage the roadway divots.

Brock Holub, Iowa City superintendent of streets and traffic engineering, said crews typically try to fill in problematic potholes throughout winter, but doing so requires dry roads and safe working conditions.

But as the last several weeks have proved, this winter has been anything but typical.

“We really haven’t had much of a chance to fill any potholes because it’s been snow on top of snow on top of snow,” Holub said Friday.

Holub said street crews managed to get out late this week to patch some of the city’s worst potholes on the busiest streets.

“We tell our crews to focus on the wheel busters,” Holub said. “The ones that really affect travel, those are the ones we try to focus on. We only have so much time to fix the holes between events.”

Winter and spring conditions wreak havoc on roads, with moisture and the freezing and thawing cycle pushing asphalt out of potholes, Holub said.

Mike Duffy, Cedar Rapids street operations manager, said in an email that patching potholes is an annual maintenance duty. The roads typically suffer from extreme winter weather.

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He said this winter has forced crews to alternate between plowing roads after snow events and fixing potholes when time allows.

“The challenge this year has simply been making sure we are addressing the back-to-back snow events, picking up or pushing back snow to allow room for the next event, in addition to spring pothole filling,” Duffy said. “Our crews have worked many long hours on these important duties and will continue as needed.”

And another bout of precipitation is expected for the weekend.

“If we get rain again this weekend it will get worse. The roads are going to thaw out, they’re going to get water underneath these patches and they’re just going to pop,” Holub said.

Holub also reminded motorists to be mindful of road conditions and try to be patient as crews work to smooth out the streets.

“In some of these cases where potholes are really bad, we’re really trying to get them through to spring and then we may have a more permanent fix later.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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