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In Minneapolis, too, crews are doing as much as they can as quickly as possible, Kennedy said. Every morning during this warming period, they tackle the areas that need the most attention.
“Those priorities can change daily, weekly, hourly,” Kennedy said. “With this kind of flooding and the potholes, everything happens everywhere at once.”
Puddles like ponds
It has been a giant balancing act between street departments and sewer departments to fix both the potholes and the street flooding, Kennedy said. Many puddles form when huge piles of snow pushed to the sides of roads all winter block storm drains and catch basins, leaving water nowhere to drain, so crews are now clearing snow from the drains.
Minneapolis has about 50,000 catch basins, Kennedy said, which makes it a challenge to keep up.
St. Paul has noticed an increase in the number of potholes this winter, but the amount of street flooding is fairly consistent with similar winters, said city spokeswoman Kari Spreeman. Crews there have been using steamers to melt the snow covering drains in combination with plows to push it aside.
Doug Meyenburg, who heads Coon Rapids’ street department, worked Monday on one of four crews that were clearing snow from storm-sewer drains. He said the city is working hard to clear the drains. Sometimes, he said, residents pitch in and help out.
“It really makes our job so much easier when they go out and get the water running a little bit,” Meyenburg said.
‘Just be patient’
Meanwhile, the road warriors all have this advice — slow down.
Even familiar streets should be approached with caution — they could have sprouted new potholes overnight. And when driving through one of those huge puddles, keep in mind that it could be concealing a wicked pothole.
“Just be careful,” Kennedy said. “Increase following distances. Don’t speed through puddles. Just be patient again here, [as we move] from winter into summer.”
Danielle Dullinger and Cody Nelson are University of Minnesota students on assignment for the Star Tribune. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.