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Street department works to fill potholes

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BREAKOUT:The Frankfort Street Department has had to deal with arash of new potholes in the city. While crews had to stop the repairs due to recent wet weather, they will resume filling the potholes once streets dry out.
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FILLING: Frankfort Street Department employees, from left, Josh Smith and Jimmy Austin, work to fill one of the many large potholes that have appeared since the city recently thawed out from last week's deep freeze.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

The combination of wet weather along with a dramatic shift in temperature in the past week has created nearly perfect freeze/thaw conditions for the widespread formation of potholes witnessed throughout the country.

According to Purdue University civil engineer John Haddock, who researches pavement design, management and materials, 75 percent of the continental United States was under the freezing point during the Polar Vortex, wreaking havoc on much of the 2.7 million miles of paved roadway across the country.

“Freezing and thawing are part of pothole formation, so the temperature only needs to change between below and above freezing for the effect to work,” Haddock said. “From a pavement standpoint, it makes no difference if the temperature goes from below freezing to 35 or 40 degrees. It only matters that a thaw begins to take place.”

Locally, Frankfort Street Superintendent Jason Forsythe had his crews busy filling potholes on the city's streets before rain swept into the area Tuesday evening.

“In the past it has not been near this bad,” Forsythe said. “For instance, yesterday our guys took three-quarters of a load (of asphalt), and by noon they were coming back for another load. That is about $2,000 every time you get a load from where we buy it at. They were going through it quick.”

Forsythe says that the Community Crossing matching grant will allow his department to pave some of the more pothole-prone roads in the city this summer.

“Some of the roads that we would have liked to pave last year, we weren't able to,” he said. “So, we are looking at another three or four months (of paving) on top of what we would normally look at. We are looking at 13 projects, and it is going to cost us almost a million dollars to do it. The Community Crossing grant has allowed us to do twice as much, basically, as what we would have been able to do. So, you have to take advantage of that.”

Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes says that quickly repairing serious potholes is “at the top of our minds.

“I have personally been in communication with Jason about this, and there have been several (potholes) that I have brought to their attention,” McBarnes said. “We encourage people to continue to communicate with us. Our street department workers will respond as soon as possible.

“I applaud the job our street department is doing,” he added. “I am thankful that we have a hold on the issues here.”

Residents of Frankfort who wish to report large potholes may call the Frankfort Street Department at 659-2912.

“If anyone ever has an issue with a pothole that they see, call us," Forsythe said. "We can get a ticket made out, and the guys will usually hit those ticket items first because, if people are calling them in, they are usually pretty good-sized.”