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How does the City repair winter potholes?
Everyone hates potholes, but unfortunately, they are a reality of winter weather. The City of Olathe works hard to keep Olathe streets in the best possible conditions, and potholes are one of the biggest challenges to overcome.
The Olathe Street Maintenance Division is responsible for maintaining nearly 1,300 lane miles of streets in Olathe, including pothole repair, snow removal, and curb repair. Due to the harsh weather conditions this winter, crews have repaired more than 1,084 potholes throughout Olathe in January and February; well above the average number of potholes for this time compared to previous years.
Potholes are top priority to ensure the safety and security of those who drive on Olathe streets. Recent winter storms have delayed pothole repairs, but City crews continue to make progress daily.
How do potholes form?
Potholes form when moisture from rain or snow enters cracks in the road surface and freezes. When the water freezes and turns to ice, it expands and takes up more physical space under the road surface.
As this happens, the affected road area weakens, causing the pavement to bend and crack. Next, the pavement temperatures warm above freezing and the ice melts, causing pavement to contract. This freeze-thaw cycle, combined with traffic use, buckles and sinks the pavement and leaves potholes.
The City's process for fixing winter potholes
The City prioritizes pothole repairs by traffic volume and citizen requests, concentrating efforts first on highly traveled main roads, followed by moderately used roads, and then residential roads. Crews give special attention to areas that are known to be especially problematic.
The City cannot maintain or repair potholes on private property or streets. Private street maintenance falls on the property owner. Similarly, highways and ramps are maintained by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).
The maintenance crews responsible for pothole repairs are the same crews who treat roads for snow and ice. When winter storms pass, crews begin pothole repairs, while also maintaining winter weather equipment in preparation for the next storm. Crews work as hard as possible to repair potholes before the next storm comes.
To repair winter potholes, the City uses a temporary cold mix asphalt, as permanent hot asphalt mix is not readily available during winter. Once a pothole is identified, the City:
- Clears loose debris and moisture from the pothole
- Fills the pothole with the cold asphalt mix
- Compacts the cold mix down to make it as smooth as possible
This type of temporary repair moves quickly, allowing crews to fill large quantities of potholes in a short amount of time, removing road hazards as quickly as possible.
In the occasion that hot asphalt mix does become available, the City has a mobile pothole repair unit designed to hold small amounts of hot asphalt mix.
How to report potholes