Mar 9, 2023 - News

Minnesotans can expect an epic pothole season

Illustration of an animated video-game car avoiding two potholes, then crashing into a third.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Transportation officials are expecting this year's pothole season to be particularly bad thanks to freeze-thaw cycles that got an early start during this warm winter.

Why it matters: The road divots can slow traffic, damage vehicles and send bicyclists over their handlebars.

Between the lines: While crews are already out filling some of the worst potholes now, don't expect the bulk of the repairs to begin until late March.

How we got here: Remember all those days when temps hit the 30s in January and 40s in February? The nighttime freezing and daytime thawing did a number on streets.

  • "We went through a period there where we were seeing a freeze-thaw cycle every day," said Joe Paumen, director of transportation maintenance & repair for the city of Minneapolis. "We are seeing more potholes than what is typical."

How it works: Road crews have two ways of dealing with the small canyons: cold patch or asphalt.

  • They're using cold patch mix now on the big holes in highly trafficked roads, but Paumen says those tend to be temporary solutions and need to be re-patched later.
  • Asphalt is the more permanent solution, but can only be used when temps are above freezing. MnDOT spokesperson Jake Loesch said local asphalt plants don't open until the end of March.

Between the lines: Some St. Paul Reddit users have raised the idea of spray painting naughty graffiti around the holes in order to get them fixed sooner.

  • Public Works director Sean Kershaw quickly put that idea to rest on Twitter. "Being naughty will not get potholes filled faster," he tweeted.

The bottom line: Loesch urged motorists to report them quickly so crews can get out there.

  • "They can form quickly," he said. "All it takes is one car driving over and hitting it the right way for the pothole to form."

Weigh in: Where is the worst one in the Twin Cities? Photo or it doesn't count.

  • Don't just tell us. Tell the government entity responsible for the road: MnDOT here, Hennepin County here, Ramsey County here, Minneapolis here, or email St. Paul at [email protected]

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