We do have a lot of potholes and areas of broken pavement this year. An unusual spike in water main breaks over the winter are the primary cause. The potholes will be repaired but you'll need to be patient. The City's run out of "cold mix" asphalt, a short-lived and expensive ($90/ton) stop-gap material that must be hauled from Glendive if and when the paving contractor decides to make it. Cold mix repairs last anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Meanwhile, the public works crews are filling holes with gravel until we can re-stock.
There's a lot of paving scheduled in the City this summer using "hot mix" asphalt ($80/ton), which can last 5 to 10 years and costs less than cold mix. A mobile asphalt plant is set up near our paving project and extra hot mix may be hauled and applied by our crews for patch repair. We use that approach whenever we can.
But there's a very cool alternative
to cold mix that I'm hoping the City Council will agree to try in the coming year - asphalt recycling. A German company builds a mobile machine that eats large broken chunks of old asphalt, heats them up in a hopper with a granular additive and augers out fresh hot mix on-site at a cost of about $15/ton. The City of Bozeman has been using the Begala Asphalt Recycler for a few years and they love it.
The list price for the equipment is $180K but by my calculations, given the amount of cold mix that we typically purchase, the City could pay for this machine in its second year of operation.
If you hate potholes like "GLM", support recycling and hate pouring assessment dollars down a rathole, I hope you'll contact your City Councilman and lobby him this month to invest in the asphalt recycler. We're about to build our annual budget.