Senior utility worker Shawn Jordan helps remove asphalt as crews work on Detroit Avenue. City crews are fixing as many roads as possible this week.
Like smoke jumpers battling a persistent forest fire through a dry summer, city crews hope this week to declare victory against the Toledo streets’ pothole plague while conceding work will remain to be done.
The Toledo Division of Streets, Bridges, and Harbor said on Wednesday that it was in the midst of a week-long pothole blitz during which all available crews are dedicated to patching individual roadway craters or, in some cases, grinding away entire sections of battered pavement and resurfacing those areas.
“We will have more to do, both patching holes and mill-and-fill, but this seemed like a good time to suspend everything else,” streets commissioner David Welch said. Gerken Materials, a major local hot-asphalt supplier, will keep a plant open on Saturday to support city crews’ work an extra day this week, he noted.
So far this year, Mr. Welch said, the city has patched more than 50,000 potholes.
While some of that number may be repairs that had to be done over and over during the winter as “cold patch” asphalt was jammed into them, then popped out again under the stress of traffic and freeze-thaw cycles, the repairs now being made should be much more durable, the streets commissioner said.
“Once you get into hot mix and tamp it down, they stay patched awhile,” Mr. Welch said.
Heavy equipment operator Ken Boles steers a mill into place as it grinds up part of Detroit Avenue before the pavement is resurfaced. At left is maintenance worker Tim Cousino. A city official said 50,000 potholes have been patched this year.
As of Wednesday, he said, the city had 1,400 unresolved street-condition complaints, and some are “not just potholes,” but entire sections of street.
There are some places where “there’s no longer a road, just a mess of pothole patches,” Mr. Welch said. Repairs being made during this week’s blitz, he said, are of a “semi-permanent” nature — “until we can get some additional funding” for street improvements.
Barring a May surprise, Toledo has finished the winter of 2013-14 with 86.3 inches of snow, beating its all-time season record of 73.1 inches, set in 1977-78, by 13.2 inches.
Toledo’s snowfall total also beat Cleveland’s wintry bounty by two tenths of an inch, marking only the third time since 1955 that Toledo got more snow in a winter than Cleveland.
Toledo’s latest-in-season measurable snowfall was a half-inch that fell on May 13, 1912, while Cleveland’s last-snow record is 0.6 inch set on May 10, 1902. But weather forecasts Wednesday afternoon gave no indication of any late-season snow in either city this year.
Toledo’s record snow, and cold that was far below average, resulted in a bumper pothole crop. But once all that snow was gone, Mr. Welch said, street division crews first had the remains of last fall’s uncollected leaves to pick up, then needed to make one street-sweeping pass, before they could devote their entire collective effort to street repairs.
While some street repairs continued during that time, “we just didn’t seem to get ahead of the complaints,” Mr. Welch said.
With this week’s blitz, he said, city officials hope to have the pothole issue under control, if not fully resolved — like a wildfire that is contained, but not extinguished.
With potholes, of course, the odds of repairs ever being completed are extremely poor, given that by the time the last mile of city street were ever completely rebuilt, the first mile would be ready for repair.
Contact David Patch at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6094.
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