Mayor Barrett taking steps toward fixing problems with the roads

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Due to this winter’s extreme weather conditions, Mayor Barrett has directed his budget team and the Department of Public Works to prepare proposals to increase road condition fixes for this spring.

This will include increasing crews and supplies, targeting 2014 paving and road work to the areas of highest need, and carefully monitoring weather conditions to get secure pothole fixes in place as soon as possible.

From the beginning of the year through Tuesday, February 18th, 1,251 pothole location requests were received. During that same time, 1,158 pothole requests were resolved with an average response time of two days 13 hours.

Typically, seven or eight crews are dedicated to patching potholes in areas of greatest need.

The number of crews is increased as needed - usually around mid-March and again in April. In past years, DPW has had as many as 23 crews out patching. When the City is experiencing the freeze-thaw cycles, Street Maintenance averages 12 to 15 crews daily.

The City is using reports received from residents and crews to address street conditions more efficiently.

Potholes can be reported through the City’s Call Center at 286-CITY (286-2489) or via its website - DPW uses the information to improve response times as well as in recognizing patterns enabling crews to be dispatched more efficiently - optimizing its resources.

Information collected on potholes and road conditions is a valuable resource. The data is used when planning future paving and street maintenance projects; to improve crew level routing schedules; track effectiveness of budgeted programs - alerting policy makers of the possibility that new measures are needed; and to monitor response times - increasing crews for pothole work as weather conditions allow.

During the winter months, “cold mix” asphalt is used to patch potholes. This is the only type of asphalt available during the cold weather. Presently, DPW uses two different types of cold mix asphalt and is conducting a trial with a third type - always looking for better solutions to patch potholes during the winter months. Hot mix asphalt becomes available around mid-April – providing a superior and longer patch for the potholes.

The number of frost heaves is another indication that this winter has been particularly harsh. Frost heaves are caused by the formation of ice below the surface of the pavement and can continue growing throughout the winter season. Not much can be done with this seasonal condition, although DPW does monitor the pavement and has placed “Rough Road Ahead” signs along some roadways to warn drivers of the pavement anomaly. Almost all frost heaves will shrink/settle as frost leaves the pavement.