On the heels of a winter storm Sunday that saw up to 8.5 inches of snowfall in parts of the Council Bluffs-Omaha area, came a reprieve — we’re in the midst of a week of temperatures in the high 30s and 40s.
But with freezing temperatures in the evening, that reprieve brought something else: potholes.
“It’s pothole time now, that’s the nature of the beast. We’ll be busy doing that for a while now,” said Jeremy Noel, Council Bluffs Public Works operations manager. “We got all the snow cleaned up and went straight into potholes. We’re out in full force.”
On Wednesday, public works had three crews “going in three directions” dedicated to filling potholes, Noel said. The freeze-thaw cycle wreaks havoc on city streets this time of year.
“It’s early in what we’d consider pothole season, as we see warmer temps and freezing overnight,” Public Works Director Matt Cox said. “It’s a little early to tell how severe the damage will be this year. But we’ll do it the same way we always do it. We’ll try to stay on top of them as best we can. And we’ll adapt.”
Crews keep an eye out for potholes, while the public has multiple avenues to notify the city of problem areas. The Civic Mobile app from Civic Plus allows residents to choose Council Bluffs and submit pothole alerts, while there’s also the “report a concern” button at councilbluffs-ia.gov.
And the operations division can be reached at 712-328-4641.
“We prioritize those — if they’re going to take the time to let us know there’s a problem, we’ll get those done first,” Noel said.
Cox said along with public and staff input, the city monitors various areas, “we know have been problems in the past.”
Priority is also given to high-traffic areas. Noel said to accommodate traffic flow while also keeping crews safe, some of the work is done overnight.
“We have some areas of town, it’s tough to work because it’s so busy,” Noel said.
The process of filling in potholes can vary, but typically the city clears the area of water and loose pieces before filling it with asphalt.
“It varies with the weather and the type of pothole, the size of the pothole,” Cox said.
“They’re unpredictable. Sometimes we don’t know about them, but we address them as quickly as we can,” Cox said.
Regardless, potholes still lurk out there. Cox said drivers should be on the lookout, noting sometimes those filled with water can appear to be deeper than they seem.
“Drive with caution this time of year,” he said, and of course, “Avoid them if possible.”