Weather conditions make potholes more of an issue in McHenry County

McHenry public works crew Pedro Padro and Clint Greve use a cold patch product as they fill potholes along Crystal Lake Avenue in McHenry.
McHenry public works crew Pedro Padro and Clint Greve use a cold patch product as they fill potholes along Crystal Lake Avenue in McHenry.

As temperatures began to climb in March, and then dip back down, public works crews had to hit the streets to keep up with asphalt that was breaking up and leaving potholes.

This year in McHenry, the Public Works Department has shoveled 100 tons of cold patch into holes in the ground.

Usually there is one crew that works in the town filling potholes, but it got so bad at one point that McHenry doubled its efforts.

“It’s been a tough winter with the freeze-thaw we had,” said Jon Schmitt, the city’s public works director.

Those temperature fluctuations have made potholes more of a problem this year. More water seeped into cracks in the road, froze and thawed as temperatures warmed up, leading to damaged pavement.

In Bull Valley, the roads are especially troublesome because there hasn’t been resurfacing in many years.

Village Administrator Rich Vance says he receives about five calls a day from people complaining about the road conditions.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we have the worst roads around,” Vance said.

Bull Valley is having a study of its roads completed, Vance said. The $5,000 pavement management report will give the condition of each road in the village, give the village a plan on what order to fix the roads, and how to financially plan for the expenditures.

“It will help us determine where we need to focus,” Vance said.

Vance said he hopes to have a presentation on the study at an April 28 town hall meeting.

“Our roads have not gotten the attention they needed,” Vance said.

The village does plan to have a resurfacing project along Bull Valley Road and Country Club Road with the help of a $730,000 federal grant. However, Bull Valley has to kick in $183,000 in local money to have the project move forward. The village expects those resurfacing projects to be completed by 2015 or 2016.

The $183,000 is coming out of general funds, because the village receives only $14,000 in motor-fuel tax money a year.

“If we do these two projects, we will benefit more,” Vance said. “A bigger project will save us money in the long run.”

Financially, the village has struggled in the past. This is the first time in many years it hasn’t had to borrow money, Vance said.

The village has very little retail, so it has to rely mainly on property taxes and police department fines.

In Crystal Lake, Street Division Superintendent Larry Zurek had 19 days in March with at least one crew out patching; nine of those days, he had to double the amount of workers patching.

Some holes needed 16 to 22 pounds of material, Zurek said. Miller Road was one of the worst roads in town as well, and is scheduled this year to have some resurfacing this year, Zurek said.

Once a road is resurfaced, Crystal Lake hopes to get at least 15 years out of them before there are potholes, Zurek said.

Zurek said a key to preventing potholes from forming is having maintenance, such as crack sealing to keep water out, and patching, when necessary.

Residents even are able to report potholes through the city website. Crews handled the potholes called in by residents first and then have routes through town to look for potholes.

“We try to stay on top of them as best we can, but it was hard,” Zurek said.

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