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.
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