FAIRMONT - The persistent freezing cold weather over this winter wasn't welcome by most, but it did help in one regard: Fewer potholes developed in Fairmont than past years, according to city staff.
"It's way lower than normal, I think," said Nick Lardy, streets and parks superintendent. "We didn't get the freeze-thaw cycle throughout the winter like we usually do, which pops the patches out."
Since the weather began warming up last week, city workers have been out filling cracks and holes using a cold-asphalt mix. It's a temporary fix, until a hot-asphalt mix is made available, but it's important for drivers and the roads that the holes and cracks be patched as soon as possible.
City workers Ben Austin, left, and Ron Green spent their Wednesday morning filling cracks and potholes in Fairmont.
"As soon as it starts melting, that snow and ice seeps down into the road, into the fissures and asphalt itself, and when the temperatures drop, then it freezes again. When it freezes it expands - like putting a can of coke in the freezer," Lardy said.
Few of the potholes in Fairmont this year are new. Most have previously been patched.
How well the patch holds up depends on a variety of factors. Heavy traffic takes a heavy toll on roads, as can poor drainage. The type of material a street is made of also can affect how well a patch bonds. The asphalt mix, for instance, does not adhere as well to concrete.
Patching potholes in Fairmont is a job that usually requires two crews, each comprised of two people. The crews start on opposite ends of town, driving street by street. When they spot a pothole or crack that warrants patching, they stop to quickly shovel the asphalt mixture from the back of their truck onto the road, tamping it down with their shovels. This routine continues until the two crews meet in the middle.
"That's after the real obvious, problematic ones are repaired," Lardy said.
He encourages people to notify city staff about potholes by calling City Hall at (507) 238-9461 or reporting them through the city's website at www.fairmont.org, by selecting the "I Want To ..." tab, scrolling down to "Submit a" and clicking on "Pothole."