Watch out for that pothole

A familiar problem arises as late winter snow and ice recede

-Daily Freeman Journal photo by Joe Sutter
Webster City roads workers Jake Roder, left, and Jacob McKibban fill holes with cold mix in front of the Kwik Star Thursday afternoon. Street Department Supervisor Brandon Bahrenfuss said crews just picked up a new load of the repair material, and will be busy today and over the next weeks filling potholes around town.

All over town, drivers are facing a familiar problem — potholes.

It’s been some time since Webster City Street Department Supervisor Brandon Bahrenfuss has seen it this bad.

“We understand the roads are in tough shape right now,” Bahrenfuss said. “This happens after a tough late winter like we’ve had here, and with the rain, probably made it a little bit worse than the average year.”

Thursday was a busy day.

“The guys just got back this morning,” he said. “We went to pick up a 7 ton load of cold mix.”

-Daily Freeman Journal photo by Joe Sutter
Cars pass by potholes left in Fair Meadow Drive after a late, heavy winter. Road crews will be busy filling in holes in the busiest streets first, such as Superior, Second, Beech, and Ohio, said Street Department Supervisor Brandon Bahrenfuss.

Cold mix can be used to patch cracks and holes, and unlike hot mix it can be stored for use later, Bahrenfuss said.

“We sent the guys out at 2 o’clock to start hitting all the highly traveled roads–Superior, Second, Beach, Ohio, White Fox, stuff like that,” Bahrenfuss said. “We like to hit them first, because obviously you get your main traffic there. Once we have a handle on that, we’ll move into the residential streets.”

All the rain slows down repair work.

“The one thing we’re fighting right now is water in the potholes,” he said. “You don’t want to put the cold mix in the pothole with the water in it, so our guys are having to broom all the water out of the pothole, and then put the mix in.

“We all understand it’s not a permanent fix, but it is something to get us by and get us down the road.”

Workers repair potholes all year round, Bahrenfuss said, but obviously this is the worst time of year.

“What happens is when the ground is frozen and then it thaws out, it weakens the structure underneath the road. It makes it kind of spongy,” he said. “As you drive over it, it breaks up the asphalt especially, sometimes the concrete.”

There’s a Facebook post especially about pothole repair, Bahrenfuss said. Anyone can go to and report potholes, especially on a residential street. This may help crews get to them more quickly, as time allows.

“People can also call the phone here at the office 832-9123,” he said. “If nobody answers, don’t be afraid to leave the message.”