For drivers in towns and cities across Nebraska with spring, comes pothole season.
As temperatures fluctuate between 50 and freezing, roads can also fluctuate between smooth and bumpy – seemingly in an instant.
While drivers are sure to notice the amount of potholes growing during the early spring months, for the Fremont Streets Department the job of filling those holes seems never ending.
“We’ve been fixing what we can through the winter, and once the weather turns we can really start ramping up our efforts (to fill potholes), but potholes are obviously something we deal with every year,” Street Superintendent Mark Vyhlidal said.
According to Vyhlidal, one of the reasons why potholes seem to pop up in the spring, more than other times, is the weather patterns that befall Fremont and the state this time of year.
“It’s really because of all of that freezing and thawing,” he said.
In an essay that first appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette, and subsequently appeared in-part in the Lincoln Journal Star, James Hagadorn, a scientist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, explained why potholes are a persistent problem particularly in areas with freeze-thaw cycles like Colorado and Nebraska.
According to Hagadorn, daily forays above freezing followed by subfreezing temps at night combine to wreak havoc on the roads. Mild winter and spring days allow water from rain and melted snow to flow through cracks in the pavement and enter soil that underlies the concrete or asphalt.
Once below the pavement, cool nighttime or next-day temperatures cause the water to freeze. Frozen water expands by about 10 percent — enough for a subsurface puddle to buckle the pavement upward a bit. Once the soil thaws, it slumps back to its original position, but the buckled pavement doesn’t.
According to Vyhlidal, in Fremont the weather also plays a role in how the Streets Department fixes potholes on streets throughout town.
“Right now we’re using a cold asphalt mix, but once the snow is out of the forecast for good, then we will move to using hot asphalt to fill them in,” he said.
Vyhlidal also said that although hot asphalt is more of a permanent fix, it’s not foolproof.
“Sometimes the cold asphalt can be more of a permanent fix, it really just depends on where and how bad the pothole is,” he said. “Sometimes we will have to fill the same pothole several times no matter what method we use.”
Along with fluctuating weather creating pothole problems, other factors include the speed at which vehicles drive on a particular road and the weight of the vehicles travelling on those roads.
According to Hagadorn, these factors are relevant because a vehicle’s impact on the pavement’s pre-existing weaknesses is what triggers or exacerbates potholes.
That impact mostly is governed by how fast tires hit the pavement, how much weight is riding on a tire and how hard the tire is. For example, truck tires, inflated to 100 pounds per square inch, are tougher on pavement than are most 32 psi car tires. Tires cooled by winter temperatures are more rigid and hit the pavement harder than do tires warmed by summer heat.
Today’s trucks are heavier, drive faster and travel more on local streets and highways than a half-century ago. The same is true with modern passenger vehicles.
For Vyhlidal, and the Fremont Streets Department, that means potholes also more likely to occur on busy thoroughfares in Fremont.
“We always see more on the busy streets, the main arterial roads throughout town,” he said.
He added that pooling water also increases the risk of potholes forming on streets and roads throughout Fremont.
“We get a lot of potholes at intersections and places where you find standing water,” he said.
According to Vyhlidal, along with receiving reports from local citizens about potholes the Fremont Streets Department also finds where problem spots are just like any other local drivers.
“We get a lot of reports, which are very helpful, but we also drive the same roads as everyone else,” he said. “So we will drive the streets and make note of trouble spots so we can send the crew out to fix them as well.”
Local residents who would like to report a pothole on a city street are encouraged to do so by calling the Fremont Streets Department at 402-727-2691.
The Fremont City Council will hold its second reading of an ordinance to consider a rezone of a parcel of land within the proposed SunRidge Place housing development on the east side of Fremont at its meeting on Tuesday.
During its meeting on February 27, the Fremont City Council voted to introduce and hold the first reading of the ordinance that would shift the zoning of the approximately 4.8 acres of land, located near the corner of E. Military Avenue and Luther Road, from RR Rural Residential to GC General Commercial.
At that meeting the ordinance was introduced and a first reading was held following a 5-3 vote from the Council. Councilmembers Linda McClain, Susan Jacobus, and Matt Bechtel voted no.
While the ordinance was introduced in February, a second and third vote and reading will be needed for the ordinance to be passed. It would be implemented 15 days after the passage.
SunRidge Place is a proposed multi-use development of Don Peterson & Associates, which has plans for approximately 240 units of apartments, 75 townhomes, 46 duplexes and 112 single family homes.
Along with residential housing, the proposed development is also planned to include commercial space.
During the public hearing on the matter in February several members of the public raised concerns over the proposed zoning shift, citing concerns of potential student safety issues, especially due to the potential for increased traffic in the area.
“We are in a unique position where we can control the development around our middle school (Fremont Middle School), and the main issues about the commercial property would be the added traffic. Single family homes, duplexes, and residential apartments do not pose the same safety risks a convenience store or any other commercial property will,” local resident Mark Jensen said at the time. “Anyone who has been out there to drop off or pick up children understands the dangers of the traffic and congestion in the area, and these safety issues would only increase with the addition of a commercial property.”
Dave Mitchell of Yost Law Firm, who spoke on behalf of Don Peterson & Associates at the meeting, addressed the concerns about traffic brought forth by members of the public.
He noted that the proposed zoning ordinance is just the first step in the use planning for the property, and that many steps – including a traffic and drainage study – would have to take place before any development begins on the property.
“As far as traffic concerns, the school has in fact weighed in on this issue and there is no evidence to indicate that one business or one retail area is going to adversely impact that entire corridor,” Mitchell added. “The traffic intensity in that area takes place in the mornings and again in the afternoons and subsides dramatically just as it does in all other areas of our community where we have schools, special events, and church gatherings from time to time.”
The proposed ordinance came to the City Council after the Fremont Planning Commission recommended approval of the zoning chance, by a 7-1 vote, at its regularly scheduled meeting on February 19.
A full agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting can be found by visiting https://www.fremontne.gov/agendacenter.
Archbishop Bergan will be hosting its own production of the musical “Band Geeks!” this weekend.
“Band Geeks!” tells the story of a school marching band and its popularity-seeking captain, Elliot, who fears that a former football player, forced to join the musicians, will steal his spotlight.
The play is an ensemble piece that offers ample opportunities for cast members to shine, which made it an ideal choice for a particularly talented cohort of seniors at Archbishop Bergan, according to the school’s vocal director Maggie Winterlin.
“This (script) just seemed to have the breakdown of parts that we wanted,” Winterlin said. “We have some really talented senior boys that we really wanted to feature.”
The play will debut on Friday, March 16 at 7 p.m., with additional showings on March 17 at 8 p.m. and March 18 at 2 p.m. The play is free for Bergan students, and costs $5 for students from other schools and $10 for adults.
Senior Nick Burger takes the main lead role as Elliot, while senior Trentin Ostrand will play Jake, the former football player. Sophomore Grace Sendgraff will play the role of Laura, Elliot’s best friend.
The cast has been working on the performance since right after Christmas break, Winterlin said. She added that audiences can expect a fresh musical score.
“There’s some really great music in it, and it’s just some more contemporary sounding music,” Winterlin said. “It’s a different kind of musical, definitely not one of your own standards, and just so many opportunities for different students to shine. It’s not really a vehicle for one particular kid. And it’s got a lot of fun instrument playing—some of the kids play their own instruments.”
She added that the play is great for all ages.
“It’s a long process to put a show on, especially at Bergan where we are a smaller school and a majority of our kids are juggling two or three different activities at a time,” Winterlin said. “They are definitely pumped to put the show on. They put a lot of work in and it’s going to be great and they deserve all the success in the world.”