FD tackles pothole season

People driving in Fort Dodge may find themselves having a rough ride even though the hard-packed snow and ice has largely disappeared from the roads.

The bumping and bouncing is courtesy of a fresh crop of potholes that has been appearing in city streets as the snow from Sunday’s storm melts.

Hitting a pothole can “screw up tires, alignments and ball joints” on vehicles, said Doyle Anderson, owner of Anderson Station Inc., 706 Second Ave. S.

City crews are now beginning an effort to find and fix the potholes, according to Public Works Director Greg Koch.

The potholes can be fixed even though the ground is wet, said Merle Porter, the operations superintendent of the Public Works Department. He said any water and loose debris must be removed from the hole before it’s filled with asphalt.

”You’ve got to pack it in really tight,” Porter said.

County road crews haven’t seen a lot of potholes, according to Jamie Johll, the assistant Webster County engineer.

”We really don’t have a big problem with them,” he said.

Johll said potholes on the paved county roads will be filled at first with a cold asphalt mix. In the summer, he said, that patch will be replaced with a hot asphalt mix called Durapatch.

About 900 miles of the 1,100 mile county road system consists of gravel roads. Some of the gravel roads are in need of repair, but Johll said they can’t be fixed until they dry out.

It’s no coincidence that the potholes are appearing as the snow melts, according to Koch.

”Potholes occur when snow and ice melt as part of Iowa’s seasonal freeze-thaw cycles,” he said in a written statement. ”The resulting water then seeps beneath the pavement through cracks caused by the wear and tear of traffic.”

“As the temperatures cool to freezing at night, the water becomes ice and expands below the pavement, forcing the pavement to rise,” Koch added. ”As the weight of traffic continues to pound on this raised section, and the temperatures once again rise above freezing, a shallow divot occurs under the surface and the pavement breaks, forming a pothole.”

He urged drivers to look for slow moving or stopped public works trucks as the pothole repair effort continues.

”Please be patient while our operators are at work and cautious while driving around them,” he said.