As winter turns to spring, pothole repairs begin in Glenwood Springs

City of Glenwood Springs employee Travis Payne works with other crewmen to fill potholes near the Yampah Vapor Caves on Friday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Glenwood Springs’ sporadic snowfall and fluctuating high and low temperatures this winter have made pothole repairs challenging. 

“They are very hard to fix properly in the wintertime,” said Matthew Langhorst, Glenwood Springs director of public works. “With most of those potholes being filled with either water or ice and the asphalt around it being extremely cold, it makes repairing them more time consuming.”

According to Langhorst, potholes form in the city’s streets when water finds its way into cracks or holes, freezes and then thaws out. 

“The freeze-thaw cycle is the main cause of the asphalt popping, which causes potholes,” Langhorst said. 

Traffic contributes as well — 14,000 vehicles travel Midland Avenue daily. Nearly 5,000 vehicles use Blake Avenue on a daily basis, which makes those roadways particularly difficult to maintain. 

If funding comes together, Langhorst said the city will mill and overlay Midland Avenue between 27th and Eighth Street ahead of South Midland’s reconstruction that is likely to begin later this year.

The South Midland reconstruction project, for which the city received a $7 million Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant, will replace the section of roadway immediately south of the Midland and 27th Street roundabout to just past the Four Mile intersection. 

“The issue is, they don’t have the resources and we’re spending money on other things. They can only fix so much with what they have,” Councilor Tony Hershey said. “It’s just a matter of priorities — that’s what it has always been.”

The city has approximately $5.76 million in the 2020 budget for street and infrastructure repairs and $13.5 million designated for South Midland’s design and reconstruction. 

The city released its 2020-2025 Strategic Vision on Friday, which listed the reconstruction of South Midland, Cedar Crest and Red Mountain’s streets and utilities as a “high” priority. 

Improvements to Blake Avenue earned a “medium” ranking in the strategic vision document. 

Solomon Stevens shovels asphalt mix from the pothole trailer while filling holes with other city crewmen near the Yampah Vapor Caves.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“All of the streets are a priority,” Councilor Paula Stepp said. “I just want to make sure that’s on the priority list every year.”

Langhorst said crews were not only repairing potholes but also trying to correct any drainage issues that would prevent water from leaving roadways.

Additionally, the city’s “pothole trailer” has performed preventative maintenance and repairs throughout Glenwood Springs Langhorst explained. 

“Just replacing the asphalt is not always the fix,” Langhorst said. “A lot of our roadways have improper base material holding them up and have undersized or non-existent drainage systems.”

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