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Published: 1/11/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

Pothole problems grow as snow melts

City working to repair streets, maintain trucks

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Par Roslin, co-owner of Majestic Automotive in Toledo, shows a 20-inch wheel that was damaged by a pothole. He said his shop has been busy with people who need tires worked on after hitting potholes. Par Roslin, co-owner of Majestic Automotive in Toledo, shows a 20-inch wheel that was damaged by a pothole. He said his shop has been busy with people who need tires worked on after hitting potholes.
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Not far from one of Toledo’s resurgent pothole moonscapes is the auto repair and customizing business Par Roslin co-owns, and business was busy on Friday.

“I’m going to say at least a half-dozen in addition to normal,” Mr. Roslin estimated the repair traffic that Majestic Automotive, on Douglas Road at Central Avenue, has gotten that he can attribute to potholes or other winter-related problems.

“We’re very busy,” he said. “Everybody’s car’s not starting, or the heat doesn’t work.”

About a mile south, near the University of Toledo, Douglas’ pothole-plagued pavement provided plenty of new blown-tire and bent-rim prospects for unwary or unlucky drivers — and that was far from the only such spot.

Least surprising, perhaps, was the condition of the Anthony Wayne Trail, previously patched during a December warm-up and already developing a new crater crop last weekend, spawned by a brief warm-up at the start of Toledo’s latest, 13-inch snowfall.

Toledo city worker Paula Williams patches potholes on Berdan Avenue near Detroit Avenue on the city’s north side. Toledo city worker Paula Williams patches potholes on Berdan Avenue near Detroit Avenue on the city’s north side.
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The snow softened the bumps for most of the week, but by Friday the snow was gone, while the potholes were back with a vengeance.

“It’s going to be a continual problem,” said David Welch, Toledo’s commissioner of streets, bridges, and harbor, who noted that along with new sections of the Trail’s surface pavement layer that had peeled away, the roadway had frost heaves that will become new potholes once they collapse.

Until spring arrives and hot-mix asphalt plants resume production, “the only line of defense we have is cold patch,” Mr. Welch said.

Cold-patch asphalt is not known for its durability, but it also was the remedy for a sea of holes along Berdan Avenue between Detroit Avenue and Haverhill Drive that streets division workers Dwayne Garrett, Paula Williams, and Corey Allison tackled Friday with shovels and hand tampers.

Mr. Garrett said he had been working 12-hour shifts daily since New Year’s Day, when a 9-inch snowfall began, but didn’t mind the long hours.

“It’s lovely,” he said. “I’ll rest later on — I’ll take the money right now.”

Some motorists waved happily as they drove by, crew members said, while others shared less-pleasant thoughts.

“They’re never satisfied,” Ms. Williams mused.

A few vehicles passed at speeds high enough to frighten the workers briefly or, in one case Friday, to bang into the car ahead when it slowed for bumps still to be repaired. Both drivers emerged, assessed apparently minimal damage, then drove away.

Mr. Welch said 178 potholes had been reported by Friday morning, and he expected more to form overnight and today as the Toledo area receives a significant rainfall — as much as three-quarters of an inch, according to the National Weather Service — accompanied by its first 40-degree weather since Dec. 29.

Mr. Welch said he will have “as many [crews] as I can get out” repairing potholes today, and at least four trucks working Sunday to address the worst remaining conditions before streets division leaders meet Monday to reassess the situation.

“I want to get a jump on these before we get another snowfall,” the streets commissioner said.

The Friday evening National Weather Service forecast predicted mixed rain and snow showers today, with little or no accumulation, and more snow showers early next week.

Other city crews continued snow cleanup Friday. At least one team was assigned to clear snow that had been plowed onto bridge sidewalks.

Using front-end loaders, they scooped up the snow and carried it off for dumping into piles on nearby ground. Mr. Welch said that work, which required short-term bridge closings, was to continue through Friday night.

But shifting some of the streets division’s emphasis to pothole repairs, the commissioner said, also freed up some of the plows for needed maintenance.

Worked nearly continuously for January’s first nine days, many city trucks’ plow blades have been worn down, and other repairs also are needed, Mr. Welch said.

Part of Mr. Roslin’s business is selling fancy custom wheels, but he conceded Friday that they’re expensive to repair and prone to cracking in severe cold such as Toledo experienced early this week, with three daily low temperatures in double-digit below-zero territory. The shallow-sidewall tires they use are more vulnerable to blowouts when they hit potholes too.

“The more tire you have, the more rubber you have between you and the road, the better off you are,” he said.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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