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Potholes being filled with more permanent solution around Topeka

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 4:34 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The City of Topeka has filled 3,000 potholes in the month of March so far bringing the year-to-date total to just more less than 7,700.

In January and February, the city filled 4,698 potholes and completed 408 work orders. In March so far, they have completed 206 work orders and 3,000 potholes.

In the first two months of the year, they received 71 and 72 complaints from Topekans about the issue of potholes, but in March they’ve received 175.

In 2021, they filled 39,000 potholes.

City of Topeka Streets Operations Interim Deputy Director Tony Trower said with the freezing thaw coming out of the winter and the rain from the past two weeks has left an impact.

“That makes a big difference. So, some of our deteriorated roads that moisture is going to get in there and pop these potholes out,” he said.

The Kansas Department of Transportation, which works on potholes on the highway systems, has some of the same struggles the city goes through in filling them. Highway Maintenance Supervisor Dave Studebaker said they fill holes with a substance they know won’t last very long in the winter months. Then go back in the spring and summer months to put in a more permanent solution.

Trower said they have the same kind of system of temporary fixes in the winter then permanent fixes in warmer temperatures.

“But we can’t get asphalt or concrete -- it won’t work in the winter-time or we just can’t get it, so now we can go and start doing a little more permanent repairs that will be more long-lasting and it won’t repeat itself over-and-over again,” said Studebaker.

“We will go back out and square those up, blow them out and put them in a permanent patch with a hot mix until there’s a project and it gets completed,” said Trower.

As consequence of the salt and water that gets into those cracks and crevices, it will then freeze again and the weaker areas of the pothole covering will crack or break. Thus, they will go back to recover it with a more permanent solution according to Studebaker. The weather in all months leaves an impact though. Like the rain we have experienced the past few weeks.

“It’s been raining for the last two weeks and there’s nothing you can really put into a hole that’s going to stay for an duration of time whatsoever when it’s raining,” said Studebaker. “We still put something in it, but we know we’re going to have to go back really soon to take care of that.”

“Some of these bigger patches that we’re out doing with this cold mix, we will go back out and square those up, blow them out and put them in a permanent patch with a hot mix until there’s a project and it gets completed,” said Trower, as they will be switching to a hot mix now.

Congested roadways is an issue for the city streets operations whereas speed is the enemy for KDOT.

Trower said handling potholes in heavy traffic areas, like downtown Topeka or Wanamaker Rd., with drivers going 25-40 mph depending on the location is harder with stop-and-go traffic.

So the city has a night crew that works from 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Sunday-Thursday to help take care of those roads.

“They go out and do the main arterials -- so downtown, Wanamaker and all that where the heavy traffic in the day -- we can’t get in there so they take care of that stuff in the evening,” said Trower.

KDOT’s enemy -- speed. With drivers going around 70 mph, he said it’s important drivers, and his crew, remember the dangers that come with filling potholes on those active roadways.

“There’s people out there that want to get home to their families too and we don’t want some sort of carelessness for a split second can mean someone’s life and we want to make sure that we keep our people safe and the travelling public as well.”

Trower said during a typical day the will have four hotbox patching trailers and one patch truck out every day.

“There might have only been two potholes that were reported but if there’s ten potholes, we’re fixing every one of those that are in that block section while we’re there,” said Studebaker.

Both appreciate the public’s input into pothole reporting so they can be aware of what area to hit next. Studebaker said because there is so many, they’re going to prioritize by the ones that could create a safety issue or property damage first, then go out from there.

“It’s just business 101 for us,” said Studebaker. “It’s just, we have a lot of potholes, lots of traffic, traffic increases means more potholes.”

You can send a service request to the City of Topeka by calling 785-368-3111 or by going to their website.

For reports to KDOT, you can fill out a form on their website.

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