The two pothole trailers owned by the City of Spokane have filled close to 4,000 pockmarks this year.
They’re about to get some reinforcements.
The Streets Department will add two trailers to their fleet pending approval by the City Council, doubling Spokane’s capacity to address gashes in the streets. The proposal follows an extreme winter that propelled potholes to the forefront of races for local offices.
The new trailers will be pulled by existing city dumptrucks, said Gary Kaesemeyer, the city’s streets director. They will cost $84,400, which will come out of the department’s fund to replace aging vehicles.
“We fill potholes year round,” Kaesemeyer said. “This is kind of getting geared up, so we can have a quicker response in the spring.”
The trailers will be purchased from a firm in Michigan. Kaesmeyer said the city received a competitive bid though its contract with a national cooperative that represents more than 50,000 governments, schools and nonprofits.
The two new pieces of equipment will allow the city’s street workers to respond to more areas of town quicker, Kaesemeyer said.
City Councilwoman Lori Kinnear praised the streets department and the mayor’s office for adding the additional trailers after a public outcry this winter due to the condition of the roads, amid the city’s largest-ever annual investment in street construction.
“We have aging infrastructure, and we haven’t been diligent with maintenance,” Kinnear said.
In February, as pothole complaints reached their climax, Mayor David Condon and Kasemeyer announced an early opening of a hot asphalt plant to provide patching materials and manning street crews with workers from other departments to address road conditions caused by historically severe freeze and thaw cycles. In May, the city diverted $1 million in additional funding to address 8.8 miles of arterial roads in town that had received complaints about conditions.
Kaesemeyer said there’s no agreement in place to add additional workers in the streets department to work the new trailers, but pothole work traditionally occurs in the spring when streets workers aren’t tied up with snow plowing.
“Additional people would always be nice, but that has yet to be determined,” he said.
The council already has approved the purchase of eight new snowplow blades that will replace equipment purchased in the 1980s and ’90s, Kaesemeyer said. New blades will be phased in over a three-year period. The plows cost a total of $165,700 and were bought through the same national cooperative as the pothole trailers.
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