Lingering Potholes Leave City of Des Moines Still Making Repairs in the Fall

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Early spring it was all we could talk about, potholes, potholes, potholes. It seemed they were everywhere. Now it’s two seasons later, officially fall, but some last lingering potholes are still hanging around.

Public Works Director Jonathan Gano said there are a few reasons for that, but mainly it’s because of the sheer amount of potholes this town sustained this year. He usually says they will fill about 5,000-7,000 potholes in a season, but this year they had 16,000.

Gano said filling and repairing is still an everyday activity for his team, but now there’s just the normal one crew out assigned to the job rather than all hands on deck. Typically the pothole filling season tapers off towards the end of summer, but this year he said they are still finishing things up, preparing for the first snowfall that luckily is a few months away.

“The bulk of our work right now is running proactively on the snow route system. That’s our most heavily traveled roads in our city. We still get 10-20 phone calls per day to be able to respond to usually the next day, sometimes the next day after just depends on how quickly they get to that particular location,” Gano said. “We still want people to call or report any pothole that they see anywhere.”

Gano still encourages anyone to call them at 515-283-4950 or use the “My DSM” mobile app to report a pothole.

The Local Option Sales Tax will soon help. Gano said they aren’t really seeing the money come in yet, but will soon. It is expected to be millions of extra funds annually that will go towards the reconstruction of old roadways rather than patchwork to fix the problems long term.

Des Moines Public Works says they are going to try something new this winter season, a new, more expensive, premium product that should last longer when filling the pothole.

“It’s a new product that was shown at a trade show last year. We evaluated it and are interested enough to give it a try,” Gano said. “It’s water-activated so it’s particularly well suited for winter pothole patching when you get a snowmelt in the bottom of the pothole. Water and oil don’t mix and oil is the ingredient that makes asphalt work so this is a version of asphalt that absorbs the water and incorporates it into the finished product to make it almost like a concrete-like set up.”


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