The pools of standing water on many Minneapolis streets are not as much a problem as some of the large potholes hidden under the water.
The combination offers a spring-thaw driving surprise. Or walking surprise, if you are within splashing distance.
Minneapolis crews are working to improve the situation.
All winter, city workers have been pushing snow in the street up against the curb to make way for traffic. Now, with it starting to melt, the area below the curb, called the catch basin, needs to be cleared so the water can drain into the storm sewers.
If the water can’t reach a drain, it becomes a pool. And the pool can become a problem.
“Not every intersection is bad,” said Lisa Cerney, director of surface water and sewers for the Public Works Department in Minneapolis. “Some are decent. Some are not.”
The problem ones tend to be at the bottom of a hill or in an area where the homes sit low.
Minneapolis crews have identified 220 intersections with histories of drain problems. So far, about 120 of them have been cleared.
This week’s warm weather is not helping.
“The ideal thaw is warm during the day and cooling off at night,” said Cerney, who would like to see overnight temperatures drop below freezing to slow the thaw.
She’ll get her wish, with forecasts calling for overnight temperatures below freezing the rest of the week.
There are eight crews clearing drains during the day, with three or four more working in the late afternoon and early evening.
And then there are the potholes.
“It’s a banner pothole year,” said Mike Kennedy, director of transportation maintenance and repair for Public Works. “We’re seeing them explode all over the place.”
Crews are doing temporary patching, with more-permanent repairs beginning in April, when the seasonal workforce of about 70 returns to Public Works.
“We’re spread very, very thin right now,” said Kennedy, who said it is impossible to determine the magnitude of the pothole problem because many of the side streets are still covered with ice and snow. “It’s a pretty big, severe problem.”