© Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy
Mayor Deb Higgins works in her office at city hall.
Potholes are “everywhere” and “unavoidable,” said Mayor Deb Higgins.
With many potholes plaguing the city, two crews are busy filling them.
“The bad thing is that it’s only a cold mix,” said Higgins. “We don’t have access to hot mix and of course with the ice and the wetness that’s still on the streets, we know that in many cases we’ll have to go back once hot mix is available and we can do a more permanent fix.”
She added the availability of hot mix depends on the weather. As soon as temperatures remain above - 5 Celsius consistently, the asphalt plant will start up. She estimated it would be available in mid-April.
“If it starts dropping below that, my understanding is it’s probably just too low to keep asphalt hot,” she said.
She said pothole crews were out filling potholes in January.
“In January there were a number of areas that had to be addressed where the snow had melted off and was down to the pavement. There were a couple fairly large divots,” said Higgins. ““With the second strange winter we’ve had with fairly warm days with melting and then refreezing, what you get is water seeps into the cracks and once it freezes it expands, causing damage to pavement.”
She said in planning stages for the budgets, infrastructure was the main topic.
“That’s really the focus of the budget is infrastructure and potholes are part of that,” said Higgins. “Even through administration and their preparation of the budget, they did a number of days of scrutiny on the budget and really shifted internally a considerable amount of funding towards infrastructure.”
Higgins said this year there is a 56 per cent increase in the operating budget for potholes and in the equipment reserve budget, which will be finalized at Monday’s council meeting, the city will acquire a second asphalt truck to work on potholes.
“When we see a 56 per cent increase in budgeting in this area, that’s huge and this is basically just road crews and potholes,” said Higgins. “We’re not even looking at pavement repairs or replacements. Any larger chunks would be included in the capital budget under pavement.”
Between potholes, flooded streets and water main breaks, the city has a full plate.
“We’ve got a lot to deal with, but I don’t think anyone’s surprised. We knew this was coming just with the age of infrastructure,” said Higgins. “We obviously need to start putting more attention to it and more resources towards it to do long-term planning and long-term rebuilding and replacing what’s currently there.”
But pothole crews are just working on potholes.
“There won’t be bigger jobs done until the temperatures are up, the ice is gone and the streets are dried up,” said Higgins.
Main roads are the first priority, but the city deals with the road condition hotline. People can phone the line “if they run across some (potholes) that are particularly bad,” she said.
During regular hours, the number is 306-694-4550. After hours, the number is 306-692-2792.
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.