Original investment in our city's 5,688 lane miles of paved roads cost billions of dollars, and it now costs millions annually to maintain our roads. Deterioration and road failures are common to Colorado springs and other Front Range cities due to the winter weather pattern and continuous freeze-thaw cycles. When moisture seeps into cracks in the surface of a road and freezes, it causes it to expand. When the ice thaws that space is left empty, and combined with frequent or heavy traffic over the crack, the asphalt deteriorates. Timely and good maintenance is imperative.
The Operations & Maintenance Division performs a variety of services to maintain our roads.
The Operations & Maintenance Division performs routine street sweeping operations for vehicle and pedestrian safety, to keep our streets clean, and to reduce air and water pollution by preventing trash, sand, salt, and other pollutants from entering and plugging our storm water system. The Colorado Springs Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit indicates that we must prevent or reduce storm water pollution from streets, roads, and highways. The street sweeping program is one way we accomplish this. Annually, the city sweeps approximately 5,688 lane miles of public streets and, as a result, disposes of over 1,200 cubic yards of sediment, leaves, and other debris.
Potholes are generally caused by moisture, freeze-thaw action, traffic, poor underlying support, or some combination of these factors. The Operations & Maintenance Division fixes potholes using two different methods: semi-permanent pothole repairs and pothole filling. Pothole filling is less time consuming but more temporary in nature. Repairing is the preferred fix; however there are times when it simply isn’t feasible. For instance, when there is a long list of potholes to be addressed during emergency winter operations. Regardless, the result is to make the roadway suitable for travel and safe for citizens. The Operations & Maintenance Division works across all areas of Colorado Springs year round as weather permits.
If you would like to report a pothole to the Operations & Maintenance Division you can do one of the following:
Dig-outs are performed when the pavement has failed in localized areas to an extent that the underlying support materials have disintegrated or otherwise lost their load carrying capacity. Dig Outs require the removal and replacement of much, if not all, of the underlying base/sub base materials. Due to the thorough nature of this method of repair it has sometimes been referred to as “spot reconstruction."
Pavement cracking is an inevitable occurrence that requires routine proactive maintenance strategies to mitigate and extend the pavements service life. Cracking requires treatment to prevent moisture from getting underneath the roadway and accelerating pavement deterioration. Neglecting cracks results in significant problems such as potholes and pavement failure, which will cost more to maintain and repair.
Crack filling and sealing is one of the main preventative maintenance practices for pavements. Since failure to repair/treat cracks in a timely fashion can lead to accelerated deterioration, it is important to find effective solutions to minimize its effect and extend the service life of our roads.
Chip Seal is a resurfacing treatment that places a thin layer of asphalt emulsion, followed immediately by the application of 3/8” or 1/4” rock chips, over pavement surfaces that are in sound condition. A “fog seal” is applied to lock the new surface in place. Chip Seal provides a coarse wearing surface with increased tire traction, improving safety during winter driving conditions and helping to protect and lengthen the life of the asphalt driving surface. It is considered a preventative treatment that helps to keep the “good roads good.”
Pavement overlay is used when a road has reached the end of its service life. To perform a pavement overlay, crews mill, or remove, the top layer of asphalt from the surface of the roadway. Dig-outs are performed in any spots on the roadway where there are underlying weaknesses that would cause a newly paved road to deteriorate prematurely. A new layer of asphalt is applied and compacted with a roller, and new lines are painted on the roadway. Overlay operations begin in May and continue through October, weather permitting.
When a road is significantly deteriorated and will not benefit from routine preventative maintenance, the road needs to be reconstructed. This entails removing the entire layer of pavement and possibly the subgrade below the pavement and rebuilding the road from the subgrade up, essentially creating a new road. City Engineering manages pavement reconstruction through its Capital Improvement Projects program funded by Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority.