Portales officials gain feedback on pothole program

By Kevin Wilson: PNT Managing Editor

Portales city officials have reported fair results so far from a different type of adoption program — one where the items adopted are wanted by nobody.
The city’s adopt-a-pothole program has been underway since March, and City Manager Debi Lee has been pleased with the participation from Portales citizens to this point.
The program asks citizens to call in potholes they see, and those results are prioritized depending on the size of the pothole and the amount of traffic the area gets, among other factors. Portales Public Works Director Tom Howell said that the program has helped, but city workers also try to look for any and all potholes while working on other jobs.
Portales City Manager Debi Lee said she was pleased with the response so far from the community.
“We’ve had a lot of people call in,” Lee said. “It’s basically just identifying places (with potholes). Tom’s got his crews working on a steady, ongoing basis.”
Neither Lee nor Howell had actual numbers for how many potholes have been fixed through the program, partially because road crews try to scan the entire block of a reported pothole and fix any others they find.
Howell said that many of the potholes he receives calls on are ones that fall outside of the city’s responsibilities — including First and Second streets and numerous county roads.
For the ones that city crews can fix, Howell said that crews use either a cold mix or a hot mix. The price difference between the two are minimal, Howell said, but there are a few other differences.
Howell said that hot mix is typically stronger than cold mix, but cold mix can be stored and used for a longer amount of time.
A ton of either mix, which Howell said is about $40 to $50, could cover nine square yards at a depth of two inches — about 10 to 15 potholes per ton, he estimated.
So far, Lee said that citizens aren’t calling in the same potholes, but some streets have been called for different potholes.
“The lists that I’ve seen have all been different potholes,” Lee said. “It’s been well publicized and people are concerned about the condition of the streets.”
One of the biggest problem for streets, Howell said, is when water gets under the surface of roads. From that point, water either creates more holes through hydraulics (the weight of traffic forces water to move) or because of winter conditions (water inside streets will expand when it freezes).
Lee is hopeful the program will continue throughout the summer, but Howell said the problem will exist until the day he dies.
“As long as you’ve got pavement, you’ve got potholes,” Howell said. “We’re just trying to get the streets back into the shape they need to be in. The more help we get from citizens, the better off we are.”
People who wish to report potholes can stop by City Hall, or call 356-6662.