Cars drive over potholes along Sheppard Street Sunday. Public Works director George Rolfe says the plan for the 2015-16 fiscal year is to focus on repairing potholes within the city limits. The next year, he says, they will focus on overlay. Rolfe says the repairs will help reduce the cost of repairs in the long run. Bruce Franklin/Press-Herald

This coming fiscal year, the City of Minden plans to focus on repairing the many potholes on city streets.

Public Works director George Rolfe says they won’t get to them all, but the idea is to focus on repairing the streets before beginning overlay.

There are several issues that come into play when repairing potholes, he said. One issue is the location of the pothole and another is what it will take to fix them.

For instance, if a pothole is in the middle of the road, there might be water and sewer lines workers must consider before making the repair. If it is located on the side of the road next to a drainage area, they must mill, or take away, the current overlay before making repairs. This way, the gutter doesn’t lose space to allow rainwater to run off.

“We have streets that don’t look that bad, but we have streets that have potholes in them,” he said. “Typically what would happen is if we had to overlay, we would bring it back into the curb. We come in and put in new asphalt, and what happens over time is it builds up. When you overlay it, you end up taking away (space) from the gutter. Our objective is to get the water off the street.”

To repair a pothole in the middle of the road, Rolfe says it must be cut out and filled back in. When they cut it out, they put back in materials to prep the area for repair.

According to the City of Minden, there are more than 100 miles of streets maintained by the city. Several state and federal highways run through Minden, so some potholes will not be in the city’s jurisdiction. U.S. 79, Highways 80, 159, 531 and 371 all run through Minden.

“We can’t do anything with those,” he said.

In recent budget workshops, Rolfe explained to council members that it would be better to focus on repairing the potholes instead of just overlaying city streets. If they repair the potholes, the streets will last longer.

This fiscal year, he says, they haven’t been able to do as much repair or overlay due to the heavy rains over the last several months. When repairing a road, it needs to be done during the dry season so the layers underneath the road will set.

Over the last several months, the public works department has been identifying and grading the streets to locate the most problematic areas. On a grading scale of 1-5, five is rated as great, four is good, three is fair, two is bad and one is very bad.
“We’re trying to address the problem before overlay,” Rolfe said.

In the coming fiscal year, money taken away from tree trimming and water studies was put back into the budget, and if the budget passes as discussed in the workshops, then the proposed $600,000 will be split among streets, water and tree trimming.

Rolfe says the tree trimming is important in that it keeps tree limbs off the power lines, reducing electrical outages during storms. Also, water studies are important as well, because they don’t know where the water is, he said.

“We know the least about what’s under the ground,” he said. “We know a lot about the sewer, and that’s below the ground, but we don’t know a lot about the water.”

The idea is to identify the size and location of the city’s water lines to map them.

The city services nine water wells as well as hundreds of miles of water mains. It also takes care of and operates 15 sewer lift stations for wastewater collection for more than 13,000 residents.