Bad winter leads to bumpy ride on Park City’s potholed streets
Crew remains busy after filling upward of 100 road depressions
A Park City Streets Department crew, just two people, on Thursday was dispatched to Snow Creek Drive with a cold mix of gravel and asphalt designed to be used in the winter.
Kurt Thomas and Luis Solano found a pothole that needed to be addressed and went to work. They cleaned out the pothole, used a torch to heat it up and then poured the sticky cold mix in. They used a compacting machine to ensure the mix filled the pothole and was left level with the road. The operation lasted a matter of minutes, and it was off to the next pothole.
One of the results of the pummeling snowstorms earlier in the winter is the high number of potholes that have appeared on Park City roads. The potholes started to appear in recent weeks, as Streets Department and other municipal departments were jammed with snow-removal tasks and assignments during the busy Sundance Film Festival.
In some places, the potholes create a mildly bumpy ride for drivers. Driving over potholes in other places, though, offers a brief but dramatic dip.
Troy Dayley, the streets manager for City Hall, said three locations across Park City appear to be in the worst condition. A stretch of Main Street toward the southern end of the street – between the intersections with Swede Alley and 4th Street – is one of them. The others are the section of Park Avenue between 10th Street and 12th Street and Bonanza Drive. Each of the three locations is heavily traveled, meaning that numerous drivers in Park City would have experienced the potholes in at least one of the locations in the week since the end of the Sundance Film Festival.
“It’s part of the climate we live in. It’s not negligence,” Dayley said, noting it has been years since there was a pothole problem on Main Street and it is unclear why the issues appeared this winter.
Dayley described the recent weather pattern as the cause of the overall increase in the number of potholes. During snowstorms, the water from the melting snow seeps into the road asphalt. The water eventually freezes underneath the road. As it freezes, the ice expands. The road then “pops,” he said, creating the pothole.
“The more moisture, the more possibility you have,” Dayley said.
He said the potholes began to appear in larger numbers in the middle of January. Some have already been addressed with the sticky cold mix several times. Dayley said there are approximately 100 potholes on Park City roads that have been treated with the cold mix. It takes two workers between 15 and 20 minutes to fill a pothole, he said. The largest of the potholes, Dayley said, have measured approximately 10 square feet. Most of them have been, at worst, two inches deep.
Dayley acknowledged department workers are continuing hauling operations to remove snow from tightly packed streets. The hauling operations require resources that otherwise could be shifted toward the potholes.
He said a driver attempting to avoid a pothole can cause an accident.
“The biggest danger of potholes is someone swerving to miss one,” he said, adding, “That’s the greater hazard than the pothole itself.”
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.