City looking for the hole story, even if it's the pits

Motorists may encounter more potholes than usual, thanks to severe winter weather, and Public Works Director David Renshaw is hoping people will help him identify those most in need of attention. He is asking motorists who encounter new and particularly deep potholes to call his department at 503-434-7316.

It doesn’t matter if the potholes are on major thoroughfares or quiet residential streets, Renshaw said. People should still notify public works.

City officials are also working to provide a pothole reporting tool on the city’s website. When the tool becomes operational, he said, officials will provide information through press releases and the city website.

The city staff tries to assess reported potholes within one business day, and to effect temporary repairs within two business days, Renshaw said.

“All potholes are filled temporarily and prioritized for permanent repairs, depending on their size, location in the street, traffic and pedestrian uses,” he said. “Potholes that have been temporarily filled are monitored and re-filled as needed.

Filling and maintaining these potholes will continue to be a high priority for maintenance crews, he said.

“Crews are assigned each day to patrol areas with known problems and fill potholes as necessary,” he said. “As new locations are reported or identified, crews will be dispatched to those areas to assess the pothole and fill it within 48 hours. New locations will be added to the inventory of sites being tracked for repairs.”

Potholes are caused by the expansion and contraction of groundwater that has seeped under the pavement. When water freezes, it expands. As asphalt ages, it becomes brittle, and thus prone to cracking.

Cracks can also be formed by the wear of traffic, Renshaw said.

Rainwater enters the road bed through cracks in the asphalt and soaks into the mix of rock, gravel or soil that forms the road base below. Car tires pump the water through the saturated bed, and the road base loses some if its strength.

The asphalt layer begins to sink into the weakened road base and eventually cracks under traffic loads. Surface holes are formed when chunks of asphalt break free and disintegrate.

“Freeze and thaw cycles can be part of the process, but that is more common east of the Cascades, where freezing temperatures are much more common,” Renshaw said.

He said people should be reminded that not all streets within the city are the city’s responsibility. Both the Oregon Department of Transportation and Yamhill County are responsible for some local streets.

“If a reported pothole is on one of those streets, public works will forward that information to either of those agencies,” he said.

For more information, visit www.mcminnvilleoregon.gov or call the Public Works Department at 503-434-7316.

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