Although potholes can form at any time during the year, in Kansas City, KS, February, March and April tend to be the busiest months for patching and repair activities.
So far this month, members of Public Works’ Street Division have patched 2,424 potholes. In 2021, they patched nearly 30,000, or roughly 2,500 per month on average.
“As long as there are paved roadways, there will also be potholes. Winter weather is especially tough on roads. Moisture from snow events seeps into pavement, freezes, and then expands,” said Dave Reno, Public Works’ community engagement officer. “The expansion of moisture inside and under the road causes the pavement to break apart and form a pothole.”
When it comes to pothole patching, teams prioritize areas with high concentrations of potholes and high-traffic volumes. In Kansas City, KS, Public Works’ Street Division uses both of the city’s Hot Patchers and the traditional “Throw and Roll” cold patching methods.
With onboard attachments like a jackhammer and tack oil application wand, the Hot Patchers allow team members to apply long-lasting and more uniform repairs to road surfaces. While this process is initially slower than the “throw and roll,” repairs last much longer – in some cases until the next overlay or rebuild.
Over time, the need to patch the same hole time and time again diminishes significantly. Team members do still occasionally use older patching methods to get material in troublesome holes and buy time until the Hot Patchers or surface treatments are available.
Pothole patching plays an important part in Kansas City, KS’ overall pavement preservation activities, as it extends the life of local roadways and helps to keep commutes as smooth as possible. Street preservation activities are also complimented by crack sealing.
In 2021, Public Works added a brand new crack sealing machine to its street maintenance toolkit. Pavement expands and contracts as it cools and warms throughout the year. In some cases, this can cause cracks to appear on the streets. If these cracks are not addressed quickly, they allow moisture to sneak into the road’s surface and ultimately decrease the road’s overall lifespan.
The new crack sealer allows teams to apply repairs quickly and efficiently, which aids Public Works significantly in their work to stretch limited dollars further and keep roads healthier, longer. Unique to this model is its onboard and completely self-contained Asphalt Crack Sealing Kettle, which makes it capable of heating, melting, and applying all grades of rubberized asphalt crack sealer, joint sealants, and waterproofing compounds without the need for additional equipment. Public Works’ Street Division takes a proactive approach to patching, so they are always on the lookout for new potholes. Unfortunately, they can’t catch them all.