Utah roads damaged from winter weather, spring flooding

A pothole in an asphalt road has a yellow painted arrow pointing to it. Extreme temperatures cause more potholes and flooding in streets, so counties in Utah are prepared to help mitigate spring runoff flooding. (Robyn Christensen)

Record snowpack during the Utah winter means flooding for cities heading into the spring season.

Extreme temperature changes have caused extra wear and tear on streets. Snow and rain get into the cracks of the asphalt, then freezes and cracks to create potholes. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall led an initiative last week called “pothole palooza” to fill potholes in Salt Lake City.

“It is our goal this week with an all-hands-on-deck approach from our amazing Public Services team to fill 5,000 to 6,000 potholes just this week,” Mayor Mendenhall said.

Potholes could be reported via a website or phone number, and the website also kept track of the number of potholes filled. The week filled over 6,000 potholes and had over 100 requests.

Other Salt Lake County cities have seen extreme damage from flooding. A neighborhood in Kaysville had a sinkhole that collapsed entire sections of the road and caused a voluntary evacuation of the surrounding homes.

Kaysville City officials encouraged people to stay out of the area and shut off public utilities.

“Please avoid the area as crews work to stabilize the surroundings and determine the causes and extent of the issue,” officials said.

In Provo, the roads are maintained by Provo City Street Maintenance, who use an average of 150 tons of asphalt annually to repair potholes, according to their website.

Provo City maintains roads within the city while Utah Department of Transportation maintains the state roads. According to Utah Hazard Mitigation, “flooding is the most destructive natural disaster in Utah.” The flooding has been tracked since the 1800s and Utah has several systems to mitigate the flooding.

One tactic to handle spring runoff flooding are sandbags. Salt Lake City has been utilizing sandbags over the past weeks to direct the flow of water and using volunteers to help fill and place sandbags.

Jared Penrod, Provo’s head engineer, said Utah County is also prepared for flooding with around 160,000 sandbags in stock, maps for where to place the bags and volunteer groups ready to fill and place the bags.

“We have a sandbag filling machine that can fill bags in 10 seconds per bag,” Penrod said.

Penrod also described the weekly meetings the engineers and public directors in Provo have to discuss preparedness and needs for flooding.

“This is something we track very, very closely,” Penrod said.

Provo residents are able to pick up a bundle of 25 sandbags if needed from the Compost Yard at 1620 S Industrial Pkwy and will need to bring a shovel to fill the bags with sand.

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