Friday, 22 February 2013 07:02

City of Swift Current public works staff already targeting potholes

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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There are more potholes on Swift Current streets this winter than in recent years and the City’s public works crews are already out patching them.

Director of Engineering Mac Forster told councillors at a regular council meeting on Feb. 19 about the City’s efforts to locate and fill potholes.
“Last week public works staff began to shift their focus from snow and ice control to pothole and drainage issues,” he said. “This winter has been very difficult with the freeze-thaw cycles and the roadways have really taken a toll.”
Staff were planning to be out on streets this week, but that was dependent on weather conditions.
“This has been a pretty unusual winter,” Forster said after the meeting. “We had a lot of freeze-thaw cycles.”
Last year’s budget for the City’s asphalt maintenance program, which included pothole patching, was about $650,000.
“Typically pothole patching isn’t necessary to a large degree until closer to the spring melt,” he said. “However, even January had some really major temperature swings.”
According to Forster the colder weather conditions are not really suitable for pothole patching, but staff will continue their efforts.
“Drivers just have to adjust to the road conditions,” he emphasized. “We’ll certainly do our best as temperatures improve and the City begins to try to get these potholes repaired.”
At the moment any pothole patching will use a cold mix or crews will try to use a type of warm patch machine, which the City acquired last year.
“It uses warm oil and aggregate,” he explained. “However, it too has limitations for winter patch works, but crews will certainly do their best to tend to the worst cases out there.”
Higher temperatures during the City’s spring patching program will make it easier to get potholes repaired.
“When the spring patching program comes into full swing we go around and we fix all these failures with proper hot mix,” he said.
According to Forster the City’s budget for snow removal and sanding operations for the current calendar year has already suffered a serious blow as a result of increased efforts by public works crews to keep streets clean.
“We are well ahead of expenditures compared to the last three years,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that our budget amount will likely need to be adjusted this year in light of the efforts carried out to date.”
He estimated around $350,000 has been spent this year to date on winter operations.
In comparison, for two of the past three years the budget amount spent for the entire year was about $500,000.
“So looking at it from that perspective, we’ve spent 70 per cent of our budget,” he said.

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