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City addressing potholes
After brutal winter, crews busy patching
new_deh_more city pothole patch truck pic.jpg
Shown is the City of Great Bend Public Works Department Street Division hot-mix patch truck used to fill potholes. After this winter, this truck and city crews have been keeping busy. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

It was a touchy matter for Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis to bring up at the City Council meeting Monday night, but he did it anyway.

“I just want to bring up the subject of potholes,” he said. “We are aware of the issue and I know it has been prominent on social media. We’re not oblivious to it.”

But, “I would just ask the public for patience,” he said. “We’re not ignoring the situation; it just is a little bit time consuming.”

It’s been a rough winter, he said. There’s been a lot of the freezing and thawing, and that has been detrimental to the roadways.

“Public Works is actively engaged in getting those repairs made,” he said.

“I had the crews in all day Saturday working on potholes,” said Public Works Director Simon Wiley. They were back at it Monday morning.

A tedious job

Just as the weather is a factor for creating the potholes, it is a factor in repairing them as well, Wiley said. If it rains and holes are wet, they can’t be filled with oil-based asphalt patching materials because they won’t adhere.

“If there is water in the holes, I won’t have them waste money putting material in them,” Wiley said. “Oil and water don’t mix.”

His crews are also taking a little different tact this year by “square-cutting” the holes. In short, the holes are cut so the sides and bottom are square, and the outside perimeter is squared off as well.

Wiley said this removes the uneven and loose edges, allowing for a better surface for the patch material to stick to. It also helps hold the material in the hole better.

A tack, or adhesive, is applied to the inside of the hole to create a better bond. The filling is added in two layers.

“We’re trying to do more of a permanent patch than just throwing material in a hole and walking away from it,” he said. “This is a little more time consuming, but the result is the city is going to save money and we will have a pothole patch that will last longer.”

This method requires several pieces of equipment and it can take about 20 minutes per hole to complete, he said.

Street personnel have two options. They can use cold-mix patch, which costs about $10 per bag (it can take two or three bags per hole). Or, if available, hot-mix material, which costs the city about $90 per ton. In the long run, this is cheaper than the cold-mix option.

An ongoing effort

“Assuming you have favorable weather conditions, what do you think would be a range of time to finish?” Councilman Chad Somers asked Wiley.

“I would say five to seven years probably,” Wiley said. He was joking, but the problem is extensive and will take time.

“It’s hard to say,” he said. “It’s pretty slow going.” 

For now, his crews are concentrating mostly on 10th Street, the bypass and the main thoroughfares first. “They have the most traffic,” he said.

“Then we’ll start working our way into the residential areas,” he said. “We’re trying to hit some of the complaints as they are popping up.”

If they find big holes that could “do vehicular damage,” his staff is tossing material in them as a temporary fix until they can come back later.

This even includes east 10th Street, even though it is set to be resurfaced this summer. “We have to maintain it for traffic,” Wiley said.

“The strategy we’re using takes just a little more time,” Francis said. “We will get caught up.”

Great Bend is not alone, Wiley said, adding he was in the Kansas City area last week. “They have potholes everywhere, just like we do. It’s common everywhere.”

Tennis court repairs planned

Repairs are in the works for the tennis courts at Veterans Memorial Park but weather has hampered these efforts, City Administrator Kendal Francis said.

The city had hoped that Mid-American Courtworks of Wichita would be here this week. But with the forecast of rain, this will likely be postponed until next week. 

Francis said the company needs three days to finish the west set of courts. The east set will take about another 10 days, so they will watch the weather to get those finished as soon as possible after that.