Updated: 04/09/2014 11:14 PM
Created: 04/09/2014 6:17 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson
The Northland's long and cold winter has been tough on our roads, but the City of Duluth announced good news for frustrated drivers Wednesday: they are doubling their pothole program this year.
It's spring in Duluth and that means city crews are out filling potholes.
"It's real wet, but people can't see the holes that are in the water. We're trying to keep up with them" said Timothy Lowney as his crew patched holes on West 1st St.
Lowney said it takes time to fill the thousands of potholes, but soon they'll be getting more help.
Mayor Don Ness announced Wednesday a surplus from the 2013 budget will be dedicated to pothole repair.
"It doesn't take much driving around town to see the devastating impact that this winter has had on our streets so we are moving quickly to respond," he said.
Over the past five years, Ness said the city has tightened their budget, increasing their reserves and resulting in a surplus.
"We now have enough funds available to allocate roughly $400,000 to street maintenance operation," said Dave Montgomery, the Chief Administrative Officer for Duluth.
That $400,000 will double the city's typical pothole program.
Crews will not only patch potholes but also seal cracks, which Kelly Fleissner with Maintenance Operations said will help prevent future potholes.
"With this funding we get additional staff and additional materials to do both those operations and we will see the potholes filled more efficiently and more quickly," he said.
With the funds they'll hire 23 part-time employees, adding to their full-time staff of 40. Fleissner said this summer they also plan to have five pothole patch crews and two crews sealing cracks out on Duluth streets.
Right now, crews are filling holes with cold mix until the blacktop plants open in mid-May.
Minnesota, Wisconsin Try to Reboot Income Tax Reciprocity
State tax officials in Minnesota and Wisconsin say they're working to reinstate a system that allowed 80,000 people who work across their shared border to file one state income tax return.
Wisconsin Assembly Committee Takes Up Right-to-Work Bill
Testimony has begun at a public hearing on Wisconsin's right-to-work bill, after the measure rapidly passed the Senate last week. The full Assembly is expected to vote Thursday.
Apostle Islands Ice Caves Open for Short Season with Growing Popularity
This time last year the Apostle Islands Ice Cave season was about to wrap up, but this year, it's just getting started, and the shorter season had crowds flocking to the attraction for its opening weekend. Just days ago, park officials gave the okay for the ice caves to open up to the nearly 11,000 visitors who came over the weekend.
Reward Offered in Red Lake Burning Puppy Case
The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to whoever left a puppy to die in a burning trash bin in northern Minnesota.
New Candidate for At-Large Duluth City Council Seat
The Duluth City Council at-large seat now has a new candidate in the running. Noah Hobbs announced on Sunday that he's running for the position.