By LISA M. REED
IRON MOUNTAIN - County and city officials have begun repairing the many road cracks and potholes that have emerged following this winter's snowfall.
Theresa Peterson/Daily News Photo
County and city crews have begun the spring practice of patching potholes in area roadways. The job is getting tougher, officials say, because road funding is decreasing. The hole here is located on C Street near Kimberly Avenue in Iron Mountain.
Lisa M. Reed/The Daily News Photo
Mark Ellis, left, and Brian Lindholm, road crew technicians with the Dickinson County Road Commission, repair a 6-foot by 3-foot pothole on South Van Buren Street near Breitung Avenue. Repair of potholes and road cracks have begun and will continue through summer.
Jim Harris Jr., superintendent of operations for the Dickinson County Road Commission, said the county repairs the roads outside of the Iron Mountain, Kingsford and Norway city limits and on the state trunk lines, U.S. Highway 8 in Norway and U.S. 2.
Road repairs usually begin when road restrictions are set and continue through the spring and summer on an as needed basis.
Partly due to the warm and wet weather, Harris Jr. said there are more road cracks and potholes this year than last year.
"There are more this year and some because of the weather. The other factor is the fact that the system is getting another year older," he said of the paved roads. Michigan counties and cities have been receiving less money each year for road work.
Because of this season's freeze-thaw cycle, the roads seem worse this year.
"We had more moisture (precipitation) than last year, and more moisture means more pot holes," said Harris Jr. "We are at the point where the roads are deteriorating and will see that until we get the roads back up to good condition."
Harris Jr. cited Foster City Waucedah Road as an example of a road that is in bad shape but the county has no money to make the repairs.
"If there is no funding, it restricts what we do," he said.
Norway Manager Ray Anderson agreed with that statement.
"We barely have enough money to fill potholes let alone resurface," Anderson said. "Potholes get bigger and more frequent because water is able to get in the cracks. The worse the road gets, the more potholes it will get."
Anderson added most of the city's local streets need more than patchwork.
He said the roads need to be repaved.
"As we go out and don't resurface, those roads continue to do worse. It costs us more money," Anderson said. "Patching is the last form of repair and probably the most insufficient repair that can done on a road."
Primary roads in the county, besides U.S. 2 and U.S. Highway 8, are Lake Antoine Road and Pine Mountain Road, along with Merriman West and County Road 581.
Road technicians for the county, Iron Mountain and Kingsford use a "cold patch" to repair the roads.
A dump truck with a heated pan heats the patch material referred to as "cold patch" until it is warm and then the hole is filled with the warm material.
"It compacts well and binds to the surface around it," Harris Jr. said. "It can be driven on right away."
Kingsford City Manager-Clerk Anthony Edlebeck said potholes in the city have been being repaired and will continue to be as weather permits.
Edlebeck said the city also uses a "cold patch" repair system.
This type of road repair can not be used on top of ice, so the freezing temperatures in the morning do not help the repairs.
Norway uses the "hot box," which is an insert that goes in the patch truck and heats up the asphalt to keep it warm.
Anderson said hot asphalt will bind better and not pop out and is supposed to last longer.
Edlebeck agreed it's been an unusual winter as far as freezing and thawing.
"The warm weather, then the rain, then it gets warm and then freezes. Between freezing and thawing, the water creates potholes," he said. "Water in the cracks freezes and pops the blacktop."
It takes time and money for road crews to repair roads.
"Material is not cheap. Cost is more than $100 a ton for patch material," Harris Jr. said.
County and city crews are aware of the pothole situation.
"We know potholes on the primary system are getting worse every year, but due to the fact that the state is getting farther and farther behind with paving situation, we anticipate some sort of funding increase so we can have better roads," Harris Jr. said.
Residents who notice potholes should contact city or county officials with the location, so they can get on the list for repair.
"When we are not plowing, we send a crew and say, 'Go patch.' It would be better if we had locations of the potholes," Anderson said.
Edlebeck added, "I hope people will be patient while we try to get them repaired."
Lisa M. Reed's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.