GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) –The drive down Lafayette Avenue SE south of Fulton Street in Grand Rapids is a crawl at best.
“I went slow and then I noticed a lot of gravel alongside of the street,” said Jim Kaiserlian, who had just driven down Lafayette. “There’s obviously some debris there from the wintertime.”
Kaiserlain is asking the same question many motorists are asking: where’s the fix?
City leaders have been hearing the question at city hall, along with occasional accusations that roads are being let go in order to boost support for next month’s income tax extension vote.
The funds would pay for road repair.
But Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom said that’s not the case.
“That cannot be further from the truth,” he said. “We have had every available person and vehicle out there doing that at this point.”
So what gives?
Sundstrom said it’s still due to the weather. City road crews have been using a cold patch on potholes, but that’s a temporary fix that generally pops out of the holes soon after they’re patched.
Crews need to use hot asphalt to get a more permanent fix. And while that’s usually available by this time of year, in order for the asphalt to work, the ground has to be a certain temperature.
“I’m not a geologist, but I understand the ground temperature’s about 7 degrees colder this year than it was last year,” Sundstrom said.
And until it warms up, asphalt providers – including the company that provides asphalt to the city – won’t even produce asphalt, 24 Hour News 8 learned.
“We’re thinking that should be very soon,” Sundstrom said. “We’ve been assured not later than April 28 we will have hot asphalt.”
But there’s another problem: some street sections are beyond patching.
“There are streets across the city where a half a block is totally blown out,” Sundstrom said. “It’s futile to fill potholes.”
Sections of about 50 streets, including Michigan Street west of College Avenue, will get patched and will be covered by a layer of pavement.
Sundstrom admited that while it’s not as good as a total rebuild, it will at least smooth out the ride for the time being.
The city also put on extra crews and equipment to work on regular pothole patching.
“I hope yet this spring we’ll be able to say that we’ve been on every street at least once to fill potholes, and will continue to do it all summer long,” Sundstrom said.
According to the Grand Rapids’ Public Services Department, crews have worked over 2,600 hours and have put down 190 tons of cold patch since March.