City of Madison

Former City of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's Blog

Pothole Progress

March 30, 2010 4:08 PM

It's that time of the year again. Time to fill you in on potholes.

First, some pothole physics. Potholes happen when water fills cracks and then freezes and thaws, popping out pavement in the process. That's why potholes are usually at their worst in March with all the freezing and thawing that happens this month. We can patch them, but the best way to fix a pothole is to prevent it from happening in the first place by replacing the pavement.

So, a couple of years ago I asked our Engineering Division to give me a plan to reduce the miles of substandard arterial streets in our city by 75% within five years. They got me that plan, and I funded it in my budget. We're starting to see the results of all these efforts. According to the Streets Division, here is the estimate of the number of potholes filled in the last three years:

2008 50,569
2009 29,435
2010 10,291

I also asked our Streets Division to come up with ideas on how to patch our streets more efficiently while we work on getting them rebuilt. They came up with the "Pothole Patrol." (I kind of liked "A Patchwork Orange" better, but it was still catchy) The Pothole Patrol is a comprehensive effort to get information from the public on streets that need repair, share information back to the public through our website, and better coordinate our hard working street repair crews. Now, even the pothole complaints that come through our Report a Problem website are down by two-thirds to 38 in the first two months of this year compared to 105 in January and February of 2009.

Still, the goal shouldn't be to fill in more potholes, but to avoid having them in the first place. The fewer number of potholes to fill is the result of street rebuilding. Last summer we reconstructed nine miles of street and resurfaced 15 miles of street. This work included a long section of University Avenue and Campus Drive. In addition, we completed the last segment in the six-year long East Washington Avenue project from Blair Street to Thierer Road. This year we'll tackle another section of University, with the final section out to Middleton slated for 2011. I'm also happy to report that the state DOT has approved my request to move up reconstruction of STH 113 (Pennsylvania Ave and Packers Ave) from First Street to International Lane to 2011 and we are hopeful that the state DOT will be able to complete the remainder of STH 113 (Packers Ave and Northport Drive) from International Lane to Knutson Drive in 2012.

And in the meantime, the Streets Division's Pothole Patrol is working hard to fill in the potholes that still form out there before we get to reconstruction.


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