The ‘hole’ truth

April’s unseasonable weather affects road repairs, projects

041813_potholesA cold, snowy April has area public works departments scrambling to fix potholes and delaying spring maintenance at area parks.

But most major road projects remain on schedule, with only one weather-related delay reported.

“We’re scrambling to fill potholes,” said Washington County Engineer Wayne Sandberg. “The patches we are putting down last a week.”

Sandberg said county Public Works Department crews patch potholes year-round. The problem crews face patching potholes this month are the cold, wet conditions, he added. Water-filled potholes can’t be fixed and potholes that are patched fall victim to water freezing and expanding at night, he noted.

“The dryness is a big factor right now. Right now, potholes have water in them,” Sandberg said.

“We are experiencing the same thing,” added Andy Kegley, Oak Park Heights public works director. “We can’t get out there and patch potholes.”

Sandberg said the weather also prevents WCPW crews from doing spring maintenance at county parks to prepare the facilities for visitors.

“There is no park clean-up right now,” Kegley added.

Another public works task affected by the weather is snow-plow maintenance. Sandberg said WCPW workers normally remove plows from county vehicles. April snowfalls have led departments to keep plows on some trucks and delay plow repairs.

“Snowplow damage repair has been pushed back,” Kegley said.

One area not affected by the poor weather is road projects. Sandberg said the only county project affected by last week’s snow storm was the start of repaving a section of Woodbury Drive between Park Crossing and Bailey Road.

“The good news is that we haven’t lost a lot of time,” he said.

Stillwater City Engineer Shawn Sanders said this month’s weather has not affected any Stillwater street work since those projects have not started.

“I can’t say that there are any major projects delayed,” Kegley said. “The delay has been in doing certain operations. We’ve altered the order of what we’re doing.”

With the county under a winter weather advisory through 1 p.m. Friday as another spring snowstorm is forecast, Sandberg said the county has about 500 tons of salt available to spread on roads.

But Sandberg admits that the county’s public works crews are ready for warmer in the upcoming weeks.

“We’re hoping for some nice weather this summer,” he said.

“I think most people are,” Kegley added.