A three-man city crew has been out this week repairing pot holes that have popped up on asphalt and concrete streets as a result of wet weather, said Jesse Rohr, director of public works for the city of Hays.

“After every snow event, and being out there with the snow plows, and just the cold and freezing temperatures, it’ll start popping material,” Rohr said, noting pot hole repair will continue all winter as needed.

Project Manager John Braun said moisture is at the heart of the issue.

“Typically there’s a failure of some sort, a weakness to begin with there, like a crack already where the water can get in,” Braun said. “A lot of times the pavement will laminate, and you can’t really tell on the top, but there’s a horizontal crack and water gets in there and the top will pop off.”

Rohr and Braun commented Thursday evening after a regularly scheduled work session of the Hays City Commission at City Hall. Earlier in the meeting, Braun reviewed and outlined for commissioners the 2018 and 2019 street maintenance programs.

The 2019 program also calls for using “poly patch” to repair pot holes. It’s more permanent than asphalt, but requires warmer weather to apply.

“Poly patch is an asphalt, but it’s kind of like oily rocks,” Braun said. Rohr explained that it’s a black rubberized oil, with rocks or aggregate in it.

It is one item on the city’s menu of maintenance strategies the past dozen years. Other techniques range from seal coat and rejuvenator to micro-surfacing, diamond grinding, and in-house crack seal and asphalt repair.

The maintenance program is funded mostly with Special Highway Funds. Contracts in 2018 and 2019 total about $1.1 million.

City staff make repairs based on traffic counts, pavement conditions, past maintenance, feedback from the public and the money available.

For the 2019 program, bids should be ready for approval by February.

One line item calls for seal coat, a bituminous liquid mixture applied to asphalt pavement, Braun said.

“It has a smooth black finish and doesn’t have a rock finish, like chip seal,” he said. “It will fill in the fine cracks developing in the asphalt and preserve the life of the street.”

Most of the streets getting seal coat in 2019 are on the east side of town, he said.

Asphalt rejuvenator, also called reclamite, is a preservative seal that is used on newer asphalt streets that don’t need more advanced treatments, like chip seal or seal coat.

“The cost is less than seal coat or chip seal and it helps a new street stay in good shape for a longer period of time,” Braun said. A quick, economical application, it delays more costly maintenance down the road, he said, and pavement markings are preserved and don’t have to be reapplied.

“We cover a lot of ground with it,” he said.

Another technique is micro-surface, which is a quick-setting asphalt slurry that Braun said restores driving surface. It performs better than seal coat on high-traffic areas. The city contracted for about $400,000 of micro-surfacing in 2018, but weather disrupted progress, so it’ll have to be finished in the spring.

Curb and gutter reconstruction on 17th and Elm streets, also, was held up due to wet weather, and so will be pushed back to the first of the year, Braun said.

About $45,000 will augment the purchase of crack-seal material, asphalt and other materials for city crews to perform in-house street maintenance, Braun said.

That includes a pilot program to address large, transverse thermal cracks in asphalt streets, and will include a pilot project on Broadway Avenue northeast of Vine and 27th streets.

City crews will saw-cut the asphalt about six inches deep and use a backhoe to remove about a 24- to 36-inch wide strip centered on the crack, he explained. Then they will replace it with higher, early-strength concrete that’s overlaid with micro-surfacing later in the summer.

The city has been using poly-patch to fill the cracks, but that has to be repeated every couple years, and ends up leaving a large, bumpy M-shaped joint. Micro-surfacing addresses that, Braun said.

It’s also pro-active, said City Manager Toby Dougherty.

“One of the reasons we have some of these streets that have these really pronounced transverse cracks is because we built the asphalt streets, but then we didn’t have the money to take care of them like we should have, so it allowed those transverse cracks,” Dougherty said. “If you can stay ahead of that and prevent that, which the reclamite, and the seal coat, and all that stuff, are helping us prevent that, we may not get to the saturation points where you have a street like Broadway, where every 50 feet are heavy transverse cracks.”

That work will happen over the winter. And since Broadway is wide, it can be done on either side of the road at a time, allowing traffic to go around.

There might also be money to add shoulders to Eighth Street and the U.S. 183 Bypass.

“If bids come in lower than expected, that will allow us to do that. It’s going to be an add-on project,” Braun said.

“We’re continually having to add rock, and dress up the shoulders along those two streets,” he said, “where the wheels run off the edge.”

The bypass would likely come first, he said. With both roads, there would be a total of about a mile of shoulder, about 2.5-feet to 3-feet wide.

“We typically try to get economical bids by allowing contractors flexibility as to when they do the work,” he said. They have the year to get the work done.

In reviewing 2018 work, Braun said weather was a big factor in the major Allen Street reconstruction, which in the end cost $2.41 million. The contractor, Paul-Wertenberger Construction Inc., Hays, started March 5.

There were 23 rain days above normal when the weather held up scheduled work, he said. The project was supposed to be done Nov. 17.

“We granted them extra days, and they got it done Nov. 27,” Braun said.

“I think the key thing is them getting this done in a timely manner with all the rain we had this year,” said City Commissioner Ron Mellick. “That had to be so frustrating, but they were able to get it done.”

A little work remains, Braun said, and they plan to return next week for that.

“The weather didn’t allow them to get the joints all sealed between 13th and the railroad tracks,” he said. “But we’re looking at some nice weather next week, so they’re going to shut it back down, get in and widen the joints, seal them, and get it back open right away.”

Except for some landscaping next spring, that pretty much completes the work.

“City staff was very pleased with the work that Paul-Wertenberger Construction did on this job,” Braun said. “Our construction inspector enjoyed working with them. They’re very conscientious, very aware, and aim to please, and they want to do it right.”