Patching Potholes in Paved Streets
This webpage aims to summarize why so many streets in the City of Ramsey are plagued by potholes and what the City is doing to patch the potholes and improve conditions both now and in the long term.
Potholes, Potholes, and More Potholes
About half the City streets in Ramsey were constructed between 1975 and 1985. These streets are therefore nearing, at, or past the end of their useful lives and must be replaced in 30 years or less. The City used to seal coat streets but stopped seal coating in 2019 upon observing pavement damage due to surface stripping on streets that received seal coats, especially streets that were treated to more than one seal coat. This past winter was one of the wettest ever, with an above-average number of freeze-thaw cycles that pushed these streets over the edge, resulting in numerous potholes that City staff cannot promptly repair.
2023 Pothole Patching Plans
The City’s Public Works Department maintenance crews place a cold-patch mix in deep potholes as a temporary patch during winter. During warmer weather, they fill potholes using hot-mix asphalt once plants open in late April or May. The City’s Public Works Department staff patch potholes part-time, which until recent years was manageable. Not this Spring.
This Spring, the City Council authorized staff to develop plans for hiring more contractors to repair most of the deep and shallow potholes across the City as quickly as possible. The following link will take you to the Improvement Projects webpage, where detailed information, including maps, can be found on these pavement maintenance projects designated Improvement Projects #23-14, 23-15, and 23-16.
Long-Term Pavement Management Program (PMP)
Since 2014, the City of Ramsey has followed a long-term pavement management program to perform proper pavement treatment operations at the right time to maximize the life of our 185-plus miles to be as cost-effective as possible. The program consists of these steps:
In 2022, the City Council authorized bonding for an additional $12M to double the number of projects (overlays and reconstructs) in the City’s 10-year Capital Improvement Program, thus improving pavement conditions more quickly. This will result in overlaying and reconstructing approximately 45 percent of all City streets by 2032. View a map of streets proposed to be overlaid or rebuilt by 2032.
How is a Pothole Formed?
Potholes are primarily caused by freeze-thaw cycles that generally occur from February through April. During the warm part of the day, the road surface thaws and run-off collects in the cracks in the pavement. When the temperature falls below freezing again, the ground and water re-freeze and naturally expand, which breaks up the pavement. Traffic then pops out these broken pieces of pavement, creating potholes.
Throughout pothole season, City maintenance crews repair these nuisances as time allows. Priority is given to the most heavily traveled roads. Unfortunately, with the cold patch materials used for repair and the thawing and re-freezing conditions, a pothole can be fixed one day and then must be repaired again in a day or two.
During the summer months, crews use either a hot asphalt mix or velocity patching to repair potholes and large cracks in the pavement. These methods produce a more permanent repair.
Hot mix can last a year or more. When the mix becomes available, potholes will be cleaned using compressed air, filled with the mixture, then compacted as best as possible. Holes must be dry and free of debris before repairs can be made. Repairs are, therefore, not completed during or immediately following rain or snow events. Potholes are never temporarily filled with gravel due to the extensive work required to remove the gravel before effecting repairs.