Warm temperatures bring potholes, problems

ESCANABA — Warmer temperatures are expected to show up this week, but the arrival of more spring-like weather has its downsides — such as the appearance of potholes on local roads, among other problems.

“The potholes are starting, obviously — (everyone) can see that,” Escanaba Public Works Director and City Engineer Bob Becotte said.

Potholes are in large part caused by changing temperatures. As a result, temperature fluctuations and other factors, small cracks can form in asphalt on area roads, allowing water from precipitation to reach the gravel and dirt under these roads. After the water freezes and expands, it melts, leaving a hole the top layer of asphalt collapses into.

So far, Becotte said potholes have been appearing faster than the city can patch them.

“It’s going all right, but right now it’s a losing battle,” he said. More city crews will be assigned to work on potholes once snow removal is done for the winter.

Due to the sheer amount of snow that fell in the area this winter and increased amounts of moisture in local roads, Becotte said he expects potholes to be a larger problem in Escanaba this spring than they have been in the recent past.

“It’s probably going to get worse than the last several years, I would think,” he said.

In addition to potholes, city crews have been dealing with other effects of the winter’s weather.

“We’re going to have more runoff than usual this year,” Becotte said. Making matters worse, catch basins in the city are iced over and ice is out further from curbs than normal this year.

City workers have been opening frozen catch basins both with equipment and by hand. According to Becotte, they have been focusing on “problem areas” around the city first before taking care of basins elsewhere in the Escanaba area.

The severe winter weather seen in Escanaba over the past few months has also had a financial impact on the city. Becotte said, while official numbers are not yet in, his department has had to increase its salt usage and overtime hours this winter — resulting in an increase in spending.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a little higher than usual,” he said.