City battles potholes

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times A vehicle approaches a pothole Thursday afternoon near the intersection of Second Street and Sacra Via. The city of Marietta streets department has a list drawn up of major roads that need patching this summer.

Water is the enemy – at least, water that accumulates on and under roadways – and the city of Marietta streets department is preparing for the annual battle.

Although the winter that just wound up was not as severe as the preceding one, plenty of potholes have emerged on city streets as the weather warms.

Assistant streets superintendent and construction foreman Chris Hess said he wishes potholes were less prevalent this year.

“I wish that was true, but it’s not. We’ve had many new ones pop up in places we haven’t seen them before,” he said Thursday.

The city, he said, is giving priority to main traffic arteries, and once those are sorted out will turn to less-traveled residential streets.

Some patching already has been done to temporarily take care of the more bone-jarring holes on streets with heavy traffic, he said.

“We’ve been using the Magnum Patcher, with a mixture of stone and asphalt emulsion,” he said.

Longer-lasting repairs will begin after the beginning of May, he said, when the Mar-Zane asphalt plant on Ohio 7 begins operations. It is the supplier for the city’s hot-mix asphalt.

“Once the asphalt plant opens, we’ll go around and cut out the potholes, square them off, fill them with hot asphalt mix and seal them,” Hess said.

The potholes are caused by water pooling on and under the pavement, then going through freeze-thaw cycles that break up the pavement as water expands into ice and then contracts.

Hess said that although the patching crews, made up of four to six street workers, try to direct pathways for water away from the affected areas when they can, drainage work is a longer-term solution, and for most jobs, the crews try to get the repairs finished in a short time to avoid disruption of traffic. The drainage work, he said, is ultimately done by the city engineer’s department. To prevent further erosion of the pavement, water needs to be diverted away from the road surface and base so it doesn’t pool, he said.

Problematic areas so far this year, he said, include Acme Street, Second and Fourth streets north of Washington Street, Montgomery Street, Glendale Road and Colegate Drive.

Hess said the pothole reporting system for residents, which includes phoning the mayor’s office or filling out an online report, is working well.

“They go directly to the mayor’s office and are forwarded to our department,” he said. “Sometimes we drive the streets searching for problem areas, or we hear about them by word of mouth.”

Streets supervisor Todd Stockel said the trouble with many of the potholes is that they actually aren’t deep enough – even the shallow ones can cause drivers discomfort, but for permanent repairs they need to be cut out to a depth of several inches and filled.

“Some of these areas need catch-basins,” Stockel said.

•The pothole priority list:

•Acme Street.

•Second and Fourth streets north of Washington Street.

•Glendale Road.

•Colegate Drive.

•Montgomery Street.

Source: City of Marietta streets department.