Yes, we can end potholes

Fed up with potholes? Of course! Potholes mess with your commute, your wallet and, yes, even your health.

Millions of drivers and companies report pothole damage and shell out millions of dollars for repairs every year. Potholes cause accidents, too, injuring drivers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.

With potholes, it’s not a question of “if “ you’ll hit one. It’s only a matter of “when.”

Guess what? Contrary to popular belief, potholes are not inevitable!

That’s right. People believe they’re stuck with potholes forever. They smash into or avoid them. They rant and warn others about them. They watch crews patch and fill them. People believe they’ll always have to put up with potholes. Not true!

Paving with concrete stops potholes from forming. Asphalt is a softer pavement and breaks down easier into potholes, especially where’s there’s heavy traffic.

Year after year, cities and counties pave or repair miles of roads with asphalt, rather than concrete. Each time your city council or county board approves this, they’re saying “yes” to potholes.

Street engineers say concrete’s more expensive than asphalt, but how would they know? Most cities and counties don’t get bids comparing the price of asphalt and concrete.

This is like you saying that a Ford truck is more expensive than a Chevy truck without comparing the prices. And savvy consumers know that there’s more to cost comparisons than simply checking the price of one package against another. Quantities can vary. So can quality.

When comparing the cost of a concrete street versus an asphalt street, cities and counties need to look at how much they’ll need to spend on upkeep. Concrete roads are built to last 50-plus years with little or no maintenance. Asphalt roads require considerable maintenance including seal coating, pothole repairs and resurfacing over that same 50 years.

Putting up with potholes a bad idea

The belief that we’re stuck with potholes is simply mistaken. It’s like saying we have to shop at brick and mortar stores, when we have Amazon. Or, that we have to take a taxi, when we can use Uber. Or that we have to follow a printed map; we can check Google.

Minnesotans spend more than $5 billion a year — about $1,000 per capita — on its roads and mass transit systems and what we get are constant road repairs.

A pothole-ridden street is a money pit, like a home that’s cheap on the front end but requires constant repairs.

Potholes are a bad idea and their costs add up to a major headache:

• It’s more than the car repairs caused by potholes. It’s the increased auto insurance rates.
• It’s more than the medical bills if you in an accident caused by a pothole. It’s the increased cost of medical insurance.
• It’s more than the cost of building the road itself. It’s the cost of maintaining the road, compounded the by annual cost of pothole repairs.

Taxpayers shouldn’t even grudgingly accept the need to throw their hard-earned money into fixing potholes. Pothole repair costs translate into highway robbery.


What are cities doing about potholes?

Some cities do choose to pave some streets with concrete. Check out Cities in Action in this website’s blog for case studies about those cities. Also, most cities in Minnesota make it fairly easy for drivers to report potholes that require fixing. Just call a hotline or submit a form on their websites.

But when potholes damage cars, existing laws of cities, counties and MnDOT make reimbursing you almost impossible. In our state, authorities are only responsible for pothole damage if they’ve been notified about the pothole and didn’t fix it within a reasonable amount of time. And of course, work crews move very quickly to fill a pothole once you’ve filed a complaint.

Take action now!

Simple physics the answer to “When do potholes form?

Think about what happens when you leave a can of pop in the freezer. The pop, which consists mostly of water, expands as it freezes and bursts the can. It’s how potholes form, too.

The water from rain and snow seeps through the cracks in the asphalt road. When it freezes, the water expands, weakening the pavement above. Even small cracks in the road allow water to seep below the surface. Add the weight of cars and trucks driving over the weakened pavement and voila! You have a pothole.

Just how big those potholes become depends on how much water seeps below the surface and how many times it freezes and thaws between fall and spring each year.

Here’s about video about how potholes are formed in asphalt streets by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

MnDOT Video: How potholes are formed

Don’t take our word for it. Check out this MnDOT video about how potholes are formed – in asphalt.


You’ve complained about those potholes. Getting them fixed is another matter.

Again, it takes time and money. And given the age of most roads around here, there isn’t enough money to keep our roads in good repair. They keep paying for a cheaper pavement which keeps breaking down into pothles and then wonder why they coming up short on their transportation budgets.

That’s why it’s so important for elected official to make sound, cost-effective decisions about road repairs. And they need to hear from us or they’ll keep choosing potholes!


Take action now!