By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer
Clovis Street Superintendent Clint Bunch said his crews have been working into the night and on weekends repairing winter-weather-induced potholes.
Already working extra hours to salt, sand and plow roads during recent snowstorms, the overwhelmed crews have faced their latest challenge with the pothole plague, Bunch said.
“We’ve been wore out pretty good,” he told. “Overtime’s not a bad deal, (but) when other people are sleeping we’re out there working.”
Bunch said his crews have been patching holes on main streets first and are now moving into residential areas. In the meantime, they have been filling holes with sandbags to make them less hazardous to motorists, he said.
“This bad weather we had this winter sure has (caused) a lot of problems with the streets.”
The pothole population is not typical, Bunch said, explaining it occurs during high moisture winters and on roads that are somewhat aged. Newly resurfaced roads have not experienced potholes like other thoroughfares, he said.
Clovis received more than 11 inches of snow in January, according to senior forecaster Tim Shy at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.
Shy explained that when moisture gets into the cracks in the pavement and freezes, it expands as ice, breaking up the road surface.
Bunch estimates it will take another month or so before crews have completed patching roads.
“It’s a never-ending process. Right now it’s (our) number-one problem.”
Resident Nancy Garcia said the potholes are no big deal to her.
“I hate hitting them (but) you learn where they are and you go around. They’re just potholes,” she said laughing.
She appreciates the efforts city crews are putting forward to fill the pits and being proactive in getting to them quickly.
“I believe they’re doing the best that they can with what they have to work with,” she said.
George Songer, owner of an auto body shop on Seventh Street, isn’t convinced the city is directing enough resources toward pothole repair.
“The city’s got crews going around getting (graffiti off buildings) when they should be out fixing the potholes,” he said. “I don’t know how (they say) they’re bustin’ their humps doing this.”
He said he has noticed several dangerously large potholes around town. They pose a hazard to vehicles and especially motorcyclists who aren’t able to avoid them, he said.
“You could fall in there and never be found again. … If you were on a motorcycle, you would not ride out of it; you would be on the ground.”
The cost of patching Clovis’ potholes is difficult to calculate at this point, Public Works Administrator Ramona Frogge said. However the last load of cold mix the city purchased cost about $14,000, she said.
“We’re not through yet. (It’s) very costly.”