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Plugging potholes not a problem for city, village

Improved streets mean fewer potholes in freeze-thaw cycles

Dennis Fredrick (left) and Tom Prokop of the Brookfield Highway Department fill potholes along Brookfield Road on Wednesday.

Dennis Fredrick (left) and Tom Prokop of the Brookfield Highway Department fill potholes along Brookfield Road on Wednesday. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Feb. 19, 2013

Melting snow and ice on area roads reveal costly and frustrating results of the combination of snow, ice and salt on streets: potholes.

As the mid-February freeze-thaw cycle continues, Brookfield and Elm Grove highway and public works leaders said they are prepared to plug the potholes - and welcome the public's help in finding them.

Although the city and village send out crews to look for damaged roads between snow and ice meltings, the eyes of Brookfield and Elm Grove motorists are always appreciated.

"We actually prefer reports of potholes in the city," Terry Starns, highway superintendent for Brookfield said. "There's not much we can do unless we are aware of the problem."

Richard Paul, Jr., Elm Grove director of public works, concurred.

"Although we would love to know what is happening on every square inch of our roadways at every moment, it just isn't practical," Paul said. "That's why we welcome the residents to inform us of any issues they come across."

Starns said that since Nov. 1, Brookfield has received two confirmed reports of potholes from residents, both of which were filled within 24 hours.

The city's average cost, including labor and materials, for repairing for a pothole 12 inches in diameter is $5 to $10..

Upkeep stems problems

Starns said there is one known area prone to potholes in the city.

"Our worst main road is Brookfield Road from North Avenue to the Village," he said. "That's an overlay area where the top inch and a half is popping off of the overlay below it; and we keep those patched."

State roads like Capitol Drive and Pilgrim Road may have pothole occurrences, but those are the state's responsibility to repair.

Other than that, he said, Brookfield has very few problem areas, and the city's new street system is to credit for the few occurrences seen each season.

Potholes are filled with a cold polymer-asphalt mix, which binds better with the upgraded asphalt roads in the city.

Starns said the city has less than a mile of concrete pavement to worry about; the rest of the roads are asphalt.

"Asphalt pads and adheres better," Starns said. "Asphalt patches in concrete potholes don't normally stay in very long. I believe the bond is better with asphalt to asphalt."

"Although concrete pavement is known to be stronger than asphaltic pavement, the construction practices of installation, base prep and overall maintenance schedule will see an asphalt road last just as well as a concrete roadway," Paul said.

In Elm Grove, North 124th Street is a known problem area.

"North 124th Street is on the schedule for rehabilitation next year," Paul said. "The rest of the streets throughout the village are relatively decent."

Determining liability

Both Starns and Paul said that liability for damage incurred because of a pothole can be discussed, but the municipalities must be aware of the pothole's existence at the time of the incident in order to be considered at fault.

"We don't have much liability for damage from a pothole unless we were aware of it," Starns said. "That's why we try to repair known potholes as soon as possible."

"Should a resident receive damage and want to address it with the village, they would have to file a claim, which is then followed up with an investigation," Paul said.

Report a pothole

In Brookfield, call City Hall, (262) 782-5029.

In Elm Grove, call Village Hall, (262) 782-6700.

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