Fairbanks potholes abound after rainy weather

Posted: Thursday, May 09, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The soggy weather in Fairbanks has left numerous potholes around the city and state and local officials are straining their budgets to deal with repairs.

''It's probably as bad as it's ever been, just by virtue of the weather,'' Mike Blanning, Fairbanks foreman for the Alaska Department of Transportation, said of the profusion of potholes.

Potholes are caused when crumbling pavement gives way and passing vehicles wear down the ground beneath it, a process Blanning said is exacerbated by wet conditions, freezing and thawing, and traffic.

The craters are so bad this year that the DOT recently dispatched a second truck to help with repairs.

From fixing potholes to draining puddles, all of this spring's extra work has meant more expenses. Blanning said the spring has already pushed the DOT's tenuous budget over the line even though its state funding period runs through the end of June.

''All that stuff is on the state's nickel,'' he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''We've got another month and a half of this fiscal year, and already we're running in the red.''

Meanwhile, the Fairbanks Department of Public Works is facing a similar budget scenario.

Mayor Steve Thompson said the spring weather has caused the department to outstrip its materials budget and tap into money that was supposed to go to routine duties like plowing this fall and winter.

''We're doing fine as long as we don't have any snow,'' he quipped. ''We're kind of tapping into our own budget.''

Thompson said the department was doing fine until Fairbanks' wet, mushy snowfall last week.

''It went from the easiest year to the worst in about 24 hours,'' he said.

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