Potholes popping up early in Omaha as crews try to keep pace

Pothole season got a head start on metro roads -- but public works says it’s prepared.
Omaha's pothole season got an early start this year -- and city officials are doing what they can to get ahead.
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 6:48 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The freeze/thaw cycle that started in late 2022 continues into the new year -- and that means potholes are popping up on Omaha streets as winter marches on.

Back on December 22nd, Omaha hit -14°, followed by temperatures in the upper 40s a week later. That’s about a 60-degree swing in temperature.

The heat expansion of the pavement and cold contraction, along with snow, rain and slush, are taking a toll.

From 120th near Miracle Hills to Millard Avenue to F Street near 60th, there are some gaping potholes. Chunks of pavement are popping out and rolling into the street.

“We are in our winter-time patching,” said Austin Rowser, Omaha street maintenance engineer. “We don’t have an asphalt plant that is open for us right now to buy hot asphalt so we have a mixed bag of materials through the winter time. Cold-patch asphalt, we also have some recycled asphalt that is hot that we make.”

The $200 million transportation bond issue, approved by voters in 2020, plays into this. Engineers did an evaluation and told Mayor Jean Stothert that the city needed to spend $75 million each year to resurface roads. The mayor’s administration tells 6 News it has spent $80 million so far and that road resurfacing and concrete replacement has greatly increased, reducing the number of potholes.

“That’s been incredibly helpful,” Rowser noted. “That’s a twenty year program essentially. We are updating all of our streets. We are three years into that.”

Much like snow plowing, Rowser says street maintenance managers prioritize heavily-traveled streets first when patching or fixing streets. He specifically mentioned Pacific Street and Q Street that have received lots of attention.

Also, if a street is considered hazardous because of potholes, crews are sent there.