2015-03-26 / Front Page

City Ponders Potholes

By Barry Bridges

Even though the advent of spring may soon make this year’s relentless winter a distant memory, the weeks of snow and ice left a legacy that the warm sun can’t fix: potholes.

Any driver can attest to the current epidemic of bumps in the road, but a resolution of the Newport City Council co-sponsored by Councilors John Florez, Marco Camacho and Kathryn Leonard hopes to assist the situation by “investigating the benefits of either purchasing or renting ‘Pothole Killer’ trucks, which have a proven and successful track record of covering potholes with a high degree of effectiveness.”

The resolution, which passed unanimously on Wednesday, March 25 recognizes that the widespread problem is causing headaches for both pedestrians and motor vehicles and acknowledges the role that road conditions play in Newport’s tourism economy. “Tourism is the major economic engine for our city,” the measure states. “Therefore, it is imperative that a significant amount of attention be given to the condition and aesthetics of our roads.”

Director of Public Services Bill Riccio and his department are “doing all that they can, but we need new tools to help us,” Florez told Newport This Week.

According to the website of Pennsylvania-based Patch Management, Inc., its Pothole Killer truck-mounted units use a “stateof the-art spray injection system that is quicker and safer than traditional crew-based efforts.” The operator “controls a hydraulic boom, which clears the hole of debris, applies liquid asphalt to fill and seal it, and then tops if off with a dry aggregate coating.”

Patch Management asserts that its equipment can be operated by one person from the truck’s cab, thereby saving time and labor costs. “Traditional methods require entire crews of road personnel to use shovels and materials that have a shelf life. By using spray patching, the job is done fast, lasts for years, and is a safer process.”

The company uses environmentally friendly biodegradable materials and notes that roadways are immediately ready for traffic after a 90-second repair process.

“Pothole Killers are not simply a Band-Aid solution,” said Florez. “They have a big impact.”

Leonard confirmed that she has received more pothole complaints than usual this year, especially for ones cropping up along Broadway. While Florez first became aware of the potential addition to the roadwork arsenal, Leonard wanted to support a further investigation into its possibilities. “We’re always looking for ways to do things better and to save money,” she commented.

Currently the city uses traditional hot and cold asphalt patches. Hot patches are more permanent, but that method may not be feasible in colder months. “While response times can vary,” said Leonard, “residents can call the city manager’s office to report a pothole that needs attention.”

The new resolution also directs research into the creation of a digital application that will allow citizens to directly notify municipal officials about pothole locations.

The resolution joins one passed on March 11 under which the city will investigate the costs and operation of a Snow Dragon melting machine and other options to assist in snow removal efforts.

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