Manitowoc's pothole budget is running low

Manitowoc street crews repair potholes, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
Manitowoc street crews repair potholes, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

MANITOWOC - City leaders in Manitowoc are counting parts of their budget, one shovel at a time.

Two months into the year, the mayor says the city has already used nearly all of its asphalt for the year.

For the past two months, city crews have been patching potholes on the streets of Manitowoc.

"The potholes are pretty bad, especially right here on Dewey. You bottom out your car a lot," said Kyle Olson of St. Nazianz.

"I'm worried about tires. Taking out one of my tires," said Amanda Malone of St. Nazianz.

Some cars end up in the shop.

"We had two cars get hauled in, but they both came from the same spot. Both had broken front end components, one had a wheel," said Dan Welnetz, First Chrysler service manager.

The city has budgeted 90 tons of asphalt for the entire year. As of April 1, 80 tons have been used.

"We fill it, then it will hit below freezing. Then it will pop back up again, and we go back and forth. Filling all these potholes, it's just becoming a nightmare," said Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels

Nickels says a long winter has depleted his infrastructure department budget.

"We do have a contingency fund for our snow budget also, and that we have not had to touch yet, but," said Nickels.

Nickels says fixing the problem goes beyond just patching the pavement. He says state aid for local roads needs to be increased. Nickels says that aid has gone down 13 percent in the last 14 years.

"This is a crisis. Every single city is facing hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars worth of road repairs because of this past winter, and we need help," said Nickels.

The State Department of Transportation says highway projects already make up half of its budget. It says any changes in funding needs to be approved by the state Legislature.

Meanwhile, drivers will try to avoid the trouble spots.

"You just know where the pothole is, and you slow down, and take your time through that area," said Janet Habermann of Manitowoc.

Manitowoc city officials say they will buy more asphalt.

The mayor expects the pothole season to last through June.