BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington has seen fewer potholes than usual this mild winter, but city employees are still working hard to fill them as soon as possible.
“The city of Bloomington, as many Midwest communities are, is experiencing less potholes this winter due to the lessened amount of freeze-thaw action... but there are still potholes,” said Public Works Director Jim Karch.
Karch and Normal Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich said this week that crews are out in force right now — the worst time of year for potholes due to cold and moisture, but they've had time to take on other projects as well.
"I would say it's about average this winter," Aldrich said. "The winter that was really tough was two years ago. ... We put down like 300 ton of cold patch that year, whereas a typical year is about 150 tons."
Aldrich said typically a two-man crew will take out a one-ton dump truck to complete patching work, putting "in a shovelful at a time."
When they're not filling potholes, crews from both cities take on other projects, including concrete panel failures, pavement failures and sidewalk repairs. On the other hand, they work overtime during tough seasons.
"This last year we did much more sidewalk work and concrete pavement patching because the weather is better overall. For example, we're out doing sidewalk work right now, where typically we might be involved in snow removal operations now," Aldrich said.
“There’s always more work that needs to be done than our resources are able to accomplish,” Karch said.
Both men said they get a big hand from residents who report potholes.
Potholes in Bloomington can be reported by calling 309-434-BUMP, emailing email@example.com or using the myBloomington smartphone app; Normal potholes can be reported by calling 309-454-9571 or visiting normal.org.
“We typically have a 24-hour response and try to get done in 72 hours,” said Karch of answering residents' reports. He said crews especially appreciate when residents submit photos of the potholes they're reporting.
"Much of it is driven by reports. They actually perform a service for us by calling us, and there are folks we hear from all the time reporting potholes," Aldrich said. "That doesn't mean our crews aren't out there. If we see a pothole, we'll patch it."