Des Moines Public Works Trying Out New Pothole Repair Solutions This Winter

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Des Moines Public Works crews have been working hard in above freezing temperatures to repair potholes before winter sets in and this winter they’re trying out some new products, hoping the repairs last longer.

Des Moines Public Works Director Jonathan Gano said 16,000 potholes were reported to Des Moines Public Works last winter.

“Our experience with our streets last winter was very disappointing both from our perspective as a roadway agency, but also we are drivers in this area too,” Gano said.

To prepare for the upcoming winter, public works crews proactively went through the 750 miles of snow routes repairing as much as they could.

“We’ve been out there a lot this summer. We got a lot of them done. We are actually starting to get caught up a little bit which is nice going in the winter, but even in the winter when it’s not snowing we will still be out there filling potholes. But yeah, it was a crazy spring. There was a lot of potholes and a lot of damage to the roads from plows, but it’s to be expected when you have heavy snows like that,” Des Moines Public Works crew member Seth Espe said.

Before the freezing temps creep back in, crews are able to fix potholes with hot mix asphalt which creates a more permanent fix.

“First we clean and dry the hole as much as possible and then we use an adhesive we put that down in the holes that’s like a bonding agent so bonds the new asphalt with the old asphalt and once that’s down we put the asphalt and level it out and compact it,” Espe said.

Gano said the problem workers have during the wintertime is potholes fill up with water so they’re trying out new cold mixes this winter in hopes that some of these potholes that surface aren’t repeat customers.

“Oil and water don’t mix. Oil is what makes asphalt do its job. So one of our products we are trying out this coming winter uses that water as a strength rather than a weakness and draws the water into the material to draw strength from it. Kind of like concrete, but it’s neither asphalt nor concrete. But it’s supposed to be a permanent repair so we are trying that out this year,” Gano said.

If you see a pothole you can report it on the My DSM mobile app or by calling public works at 515-283-4950.

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