Minneapolis city officials outline plans to address awful pothole season

Two person patch potholes
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (second from left) and Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher inspect as public works employees Christina Villabos (center) and Jasmine Ramirez (right) patch potholes on Tuesday in Minneapolis.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Updated: 12:45 p.m.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says city crews will be working additional overtime and weekend hours to address what's been a terrible season for potholes in the region.

In Minneapolis, St. Paul and across Minnesota, lots of snow, some winter rain and many freeze-thaw cycles have taken a toll on pavement — with drivers having to dodge cratered pavement on main roads, side streets and alleys alike.

Brandon Horn patches potholes
Minneapolis Public Works employee Brandon Horn patches potholes on Tuesday in Minneapolis.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

At a city news conference Tuesday, Frey said it’ll still be at least a couple weeks until weather conditions allow for more-permanent patches, using a hot mix to fill the potholes. In the meantime, crews will be using a cold mix of asphalt and gravel as a stopgap measure.

“To give you an idea of what it’s like — if you think of smearing cream cheese on a really hot bagel, some of it sticks. And some of it doesn’t. It’ll get us through these next several weeks here while we wait till the freeze-thaw cycle finishes,” Frey said.

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Jacob Frey patches potholes
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey tries out patching a pothole on Tuesday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Minneapolis Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the city expects to use about 250 tons of “cold patch” this year. But she noted it’s porous, and susceptible to crumbling soon after it’s applied.

Once the weather warms — and once the St. Paul plant that produces the “hot patch” used in Minneapolis is open for the season — the city will turn to the more-durable pothole repairs. Kelliher said the city aims to fill more than 200 a day.

a car passes by a pothole
A vehicle navigates around a pothole on Lake Harriet Parkway on Tuesday in Minneapolis.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Frey and Kelliher urged people to call the city’s 311 phone line to report potholes.

“We don’t magically know where the potholes are,” Kelliher said. “We need people to tell us how long the pothole is, how deep the pothole is, where the pothole is. We have an order of operations and how we fill these potholes. If the pothole is more of a dangerous pothole, that it could cause damage — that goes to the top of the list.”

Kelliher said that in a previous worse-than-usual pothole season, in 2013-14, the city spent an additional $1 million to address the problem — and she expects the city to spend at least that amount this season.