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It was a bad winter for potholes

Freshly filled potholes dot Sixth Street at Vine Street earlier this week. Hudson Public Works Director Tom Zeuli said city crews have been busy since January trying to keep potholes filled. Photo by Randy Hanson

Tom Zeuli, director of the Hudson Public Works and Parks Department, confirmed last week what most motorists already know. It was a bad winter for potholes.

Zeuli was able to shed some light on what made the potholes multiply.

"A lot of moisture" was to blame, he said. "When that moisture gets into cracks it freezes and expands. That's what develops the potholes."

The trouble started with a December rainstorm, followed by big snowstorms.

"In January, we were plowing snow just about every other day," Zeuli said. "That's what made it really difficult. We were so busy with the snow most of the winter."

The potholes came earlier and in larger numbers than in normal years, he said, attributing the phenomenon to snowmelt running into street cracks and freezing.

"You wouldn't think you would get a lot of potholes in January and February. Normally, you start seeing them in March," Zeuli said. "They came early and (there were) a lot of them."

He said crews were out filling potholes as early as January, and have stayed at it ever since, whenever possible.

One two-man crew works with a heated trailer that keeps the cold-blend asphalt pliable. A second two-man crew shovels the blacktop off the bed of a one-ton truck.

The asphalt cost the city $115 a ton this winter, Zeuli reported.

"It's expensive," he said.

The city purchases the asphalt from Hardrives Inc. (formerly Tower Asphalt) in Lakeland, Minn., or T.A. Schifsky & Sons in North St. Paul.

"I think it has been improving since the snow has melted," Zeuli said. "We don't have the freezing and thawing with the snow off the streets."

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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