MARSHALL - It's been a bumpy spring for travelers on East Main Street and College Drive. Potholes, cracks and wear and tear left from winter are still around. However, some relief should be coming soon, an area MnDOT maintenance supervisor said.
"It's definitely on our radar," said John Platt, the Marshall regional maintenance supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Platt said maintenance workers could begin patching streets in Marshall as soon as this week, weather permitting.
Both Platt and Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said this week that there's a definite need to patch potholes on city streets. But while city maintenance workers have been addressing concerns on municipal streets, Olson said some of the streets with pothole problems are out of the city's jurisdiction. Although they all pass through town as part of Main Street and College Drive, U.S. Highway 59, Minnesota Highway 68 and Minnesota Highway 19 are maintained by MnDOT.
Photo by Deb Gau
A number of potholes on Main Street have been filled and patched in recent years, but as typically happens in the spring, others form and add to the problem on one of Marshall’s busiest streets.
Platt said he knows areas like East Main Street and College Drive are in need of patching. On Tuesday, potholes, cracks and rough areas could be seen on both streets. Some were new, while others showed signs of having been patched in the past. But, Platt said, there are a lot of factors that can affect how quickly maintenance crews can get to work on the situation.
There's a lot of work to be done on state highways every year and working with limited funding and manpower means maintenance crews have to prioritize, Platt said. Factors like location, safety risks and the schedule of other planned road projects can all affect how quickly a pothole or crack is filled, he said.
Platt said this spring area maintenance workers have started out by catching up on patching cracks and potholes on area highways, especially damage along center lines and fog lines. He said filling cracks and holes in high-speed areas, where they pose a bigger safety risk, is a higher priority than in towns, where traffic is slower.
Weather conditions have also played a part in delaying spring road patching, Platt said.
"This year is kind of unusual. Typically, we have time between winter and summer" to do that work, he said. It hasn't happened this year.
Depending on the kind of materials being used, patching can also be held up by wet conditions, Platt said. Hot asphalt mix, which is often used to patch potholes, needs to have dry conditions in order to set.
In spite of a late start, Platt said there are some positive factors that could help speed up road patching in Marshall. For one, the start of the summer construction season means MnDOT now has access to additional workers. Before then, it could be difficult to put a full crew together, he said.
Platt said maintenance crews also have access to some different patching materials that require less labor. One example is mastic, a mixture of oil, rock and sand that can be used to fill cracks in the road. It requires less preparation and equipment to use, and Platt said maintenance workers have already used it on Minnesota Highway 23 between Cottonwood and Hanley Falls with good results.
If weather conditions cooperate, Platt said, MnDOT hopes to begin patching potholes in Marshall starting this week.