Steady, systematic approach to repairing streets: Potholes, resurfacing and reconstruction
Potholes. Everyone, including us, has been talking about potholes for months. Cleveland, Detroit, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and cities throughout the northern half of the United States seem to be facing record numbers of potholes after a winter that seemed to be colder, snowier and longer than those in recent years. This winter’s deep freeze with intermittent periods of above freezing temperatures along with frequent snow plowing had a significant impact on our roads this year.
But, potholes are an annual issue in the city of Cleveland and over the last several years, we have developed a systematic approach to filling potholes and repairing streets that works. This year, even with more potholes to deal with, the systematic approach is working and we are beginning to move in to residential streets as of today. Early in the pothole season, we provided this strategy to Cleveland City Council and today, we want to make sure that you know what progress we’ve made.
Systematic and efficient, not random and sporadic
Starting in the Winter and working through the Spring, Cleveland street crews patch potholes whenever weather permits, based on the following priorities:
- We make emergency repairs for extremely severe potholes on all City streets;
- We start with the main streets and secondary routes, prioritizing those in the worst condition for repair first;
- Then we move in to the residential side streets, using the same “worst first” approach that is used on main streets.
This means that streets as a whole are prioritized over individual potholes. In this way, we use our crews much more efficiently, repairing an entire street before moving on to the next.
Since January, we have had an average of 10-12 pothole crews working on asphalt streets every day that weather permits. That is double the number of daily crews we have used in past years, thanks to additional funding authorized by Mayor Frank G. Jackson. In addition, we have one or two Durapatch crews repairing concrete roads daily. And, three Pothole Killer machines, run by Patch Management, Inc., which began working on city streets on March 11, as a result of Mayor Jackson allocating the dollars to hire the service. These extra resources have put us ahead of schedule for this year’s street maintenance programs.
That’s a lot of Asphalt
Since January, the City of Cleveland has used 923 tons of cold patch and more than 3,255 tons of hot asphalt to repair potholes. Here’s how:
- Cold Patch: The Division of Public Works began repairing potholes in January with Cold Patch. Cold patch, which is made from an aggregate of asphaltic material, is pliable in cold, dry weather. The cold patch method is primarily used to make critical repairs when it is not warm enough to use hot asphalt and the local companies that make hot asphalt are not open. This year, we have used a total of 923 tons of cold patch on City streets.
- Recycled Hot Asphalt: The local hot asphalt plants do not make hot asphalt in the cold of winter. But, the Division of Streets is capable of making their own hot asphalt by using machines that recycle asphalt. This helps us make repairs when it’s warm enough to use hot asphalt but the hot asphalt plants are closed. From January 1 through March 17, City crews used 873.5 tons of recycled asphalt.
- Hot Asphalt: The best method to repair potholes is to use hot asphalt and the ideal time for these repairs is on dry days when the temperature is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Hot asphalt plants typically open in April, but this year, we were able to convince some of them to open early, in March because of the severity of the pothole problem. Since March 17th, the City has used a total of 2,128.5 tons of hot asphalt.
- Durapatch: Durapatch concrete road repair machines use hot asphalt to make repairs on concrete roads. We typically have one or two Durapatch machines out working every day making repairs.
- Pothole Killer: On March 11, one Pothole Killer machine began filling potholes on city streets. Today, there are three Pothole Killers in action that have used a total of 253 tons of hot asphalt.
That’s a grand total of more than 4,178 tons of material used on pothole repairs since January. That’s a lot of asphalt.
This year, three streets in particular proved to be problematic, Kingsbury Boulevard, W. 117th Street and Rocky River Drive.
- Kingsbury Boulevard Rehabilitation: Crews from the Division of Street Maintenance and Traffic Engineering cleaned and filled all the failed joints along the length of Kingsbury Boulevard and side street approaches. Four prep and cleaning crews and two hot asphalt repair crews used over 200 tons of asphalt on Kingsbury Boulevard during 17 work days.
- For W. 117th, the Cuyahoga County Council recently passed legislation authorizing $1.3 million for the removal and replacement of concrete along the street. Next, the City will seek approval from Cleveland City Council to accept the funding and move forward with the project. This rehabilitation work is expected to begin by July.
- For Rocky River Drive, the City has been working with ODOT, which recently inspected the condition of the pavement. We will continue to work to find funding for concrete removal and replacement.
Beyond Potholes: Ward Resurfacing Bond Allocations
Pothole repair is just one part of the work that the City of Cleveland does each year to improve the condition of city streets. Preventive maintenance in the form of street resurfacing and crack sealing help prevent potholes from forming.
Every year, money is set aside for the resurfacing of city streets, ward by ward. Since 2007, approximately $30,000,000 has been allocated for the resurfacing of streets chosen by members of Cleveland City Council. This year, each council member has been allocated approximately $244,000 for the resurfacing of streets in their wards.
The Division of Streets prioritizes streets by condition and presents those streets most in need of resurfacing to the members of Cleveland City Council. Each council member then can select which streets their funds should be spent on. Council members are currently reviewing their lists and, when the Division of Streets receive the council members’ selections, resurfacing projects can begin. Given the efficiency of the pothole repair efforts this year, we will be able to begin resurfacing work ahead of schedule, likely in June.
In addition, this is the second year in a row that the City of Cleveland has identified funding for crack sealing. With the freeze-thaw cycles we experience in Cleveland, frequent snow plowing and day-to-day traffic, streets begin to show signs of stress in the form of cracks. By sealing those cracks early in the life cycle of a street, we can help prevent potholes in the future.
Street Reconstruction Projects
Finally, streets do not last forever and will need to be reconstructed. Every year, selected city streets undergo major reconstruction, managed by the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects. Below is a list of some of the major street projects that are underway or will be underway this year.
- Martin Luther King Jr Drive Phase-2 from Buckingham to Cedar Road
- Cedar Road Phase-2 from East 89th Street to Martin Luther King Jr Drive
- Woodland/Buckeye Road Phase-1 from East 55th Street to Buckeye, Buckeye to Ambler St
- Larchmere Boulevard from North Moreland Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr Drive
- Dennison Avenue – I-176 to Ridge Road
- Clifton Avenue from West 117th Street to Lake Avenue
- Puritas Avenue from Rocky River Drive to West 130th
- Triskett Avenue from West 117 Street to Berea Road
- Warren Road and Munn Road to Lorain Avenue
- Fleet Avenue from I77 to Broadway
- Chester Avenue from East 93rd Street to East 13th Street
- Harvard Road Bridge
- Canal Road Bridge
- Ackley-Broadway Intersection Improvements
- Madison Ave (West Blvd to West 65th)
- Madison Ave-W 61st Bridges over GCRTA
As you can see, the Jackson Administration places a high priority on improving the condition of its streets. Overall, since 2007 the City of Cleveland has allocated $141.7 million for ward resurfacing and road and bridge repair. These city dollars leverage funding from the county, the state and the federal government for critical infrastructure improvements. And, the Jackson Administration is continuing to work on securing additional revenue for future street improvements.