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Glenwood Springs News

Posted on: March 12, 2019

A Letter on Potholes from your Public Works Director

Public Works Director, Matt Langhorst, addresses potholes in Glenwood Springs

Dear residents of Glenwood Springs,

City crews have been working hard to fill potholes on a roadway that will not hold pothole repair, no matter what you do with the pothole. Lately, we have seen standing water within the roadway subgrade causing a water wave to pass underneath the asphalt. As heavier vehicles drive on the roadway, this water exits from under the asphalt and into potholes causing the fill to blow out of the hole in a short period of time. This will happen no matter how you install the fill material. Due to very few drainage pipes, as well as barricades to prevent rolling rocks, the drainage along the roadway is hard to maintain causing standing water in not ideal locations. As you can see this time of year, the collection of mud slides can quickly fill in the drainage in locations that are not easy to be removed.

The City street crews are repairing potholes all over town as fast as they can this winter. This is the process they are following: Clear all debris/loose material and water from the hole and area around the hole, heat the surface of the pothole so that the tack material will adhere to the asphalt that is still available for bonding, apply a tack coat to the pothole, then apply cold patch mix in 2” maximum depth layers and compact with a mid-size plate compactor. Some potholes are too small to plate compact, so we use a standardized flat pack hand compactor. 

What you will find, especially with South Midland, is that water comes back up into the hole from the ground so drying out the potholes becomes impossible (see water wave noted above). Or, the melt off or rain events are not allowing the holes to be dried out completely due to water running down the roadway into the hole at a rate that we cannot control with a standard upstream dam. We cannot ignore large potholes just because it is raining, but we also know that the application of material during this type of event is prone to a faster failure rate. So, we will still go out in the rain to fill potholes knowing that they will fail quickly.

We have received many suggestions on how to better manage the potholes, including steel plates. Steel plates do not work on non-flat surfaces as they have a tendency to move with each vehicle that goes over it. Steel plates may work in construction zones for a day or two at a time and for vehicles traveling at about 5mph, but they will not work for our potholes. People have also suggested that we cut the potholes out, square up the edges, and then fill them after a good base course repair. However, South Midland has almost no base course under it and cutting the edges would only widen the pothole once the material fails, in the same way as noted above, resulting in a larger pothole due to our efforts. City crews are also utilizing roadbase pothole fill material as needed. The roadbase material seems to be holding up well, if not better than, the cold patch material. Roadbase material allows drainage through it while the cold patch material does not. It is a case by case basis to determine what material to use.

The South Midland complete removal and replacement project was scheduled to start spring of 2019, but that time frame has been pushed to 2020 due to the acquisition of the $7 million BUILD America grant that the City received over the summer. This grant has Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidelines and requirements attached to it that has slowed down the design, environmental clearances, and right of way acquisition process. The City will not feasibly be able to bid the project out until late summer/fall of 2019 which pushes construction to begin in 2020.

The City will be taking more drastic measures to fix South Midland this summer so that we can help control the potholes during the winter of 2019/2020 and safely get everyone to construction in 2020. This will include large pothole repairs with hot mix, roadbase repairs or installation, removal and replacement of some lateral cracking, and some 4” depth mill and overlays/removal and replacements for sections of roadway that have completely failed. A full drainage cleaning will also be done along with the cut slope rock scaling effort that will be commencing in mid-March.

The City is now following a process to keep the roads we have that are in good shape, in good shape. The roadways in Park East and Cardiff Glen are in good shape, but the surface wear was starting to show asphalt surface segregation, which then starts the water infiltration process. Therefore, we chip and sealed the roadways to seal that surface back up so that the road can remain in good condition for a longer period of time. Chip and seals only work to a certain level of asphalt degradation, after that we must mill and overlay or rebuild whole roadways. Mill and overlay or roadway rebuilding is much more expensive than a seal/wear coat such as chip and seal. We will also be crack sealing Park East this year to get some of the larger cracks that have compressed over the winter.

Thank you,

Matthew Langhorst, Director of Public Works

matthew.langhorst@cogs.us or 970-384-6438

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