Street sweepers start to clean winter sand and debris from the streets as soon as weather permits in the spring. There are 18 separate street sweeping routes, and the City’s four street sweepers may operate eight hours per day, Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
From about March to December the main arterial streets, downtown area, and other commercial districts are typically swept weekly. The remaining areas, predominantly residential, are swept at intervals throughout the sweeping season, typically once a month. On average the entire City is swept 3-5 times per year and the main streets are swept about 25 times per year.
In a typical year, the City may sweep a cumulative total of 6,500 lane miles of streets and pick up over 3,500 cubic yards of sand and debris. Street sweeping does a great deal more than keep our streets clean and our neighborhoods attractive. The street sweeping program is a key factor in minimizing the discharge of pollutants carried by storm water runoff into the Wisconsin River.
Late winter and early spring bring the appearance of the dreaded potholes in city streets. The Construction & Maintenance Division maintains nearly 240 miles of streets. During the cold weather months coldmix asphalt is used to repair potholes. Coldmix asphalt is a temporary measure for filling potholes. In some instances it can be quite effective, but in other instances the combination of temperature, freeze/thaw cycles, and traffic conditions disturb the patch shortly after it is placed. Once temperatures are warm enough in the spring, hotmix asphalt is used which is much more effective and long-lasting. Residents may call 261-6960 to report potholes or other hazardous street conditions.
Another effective means to lengthen the life of some streets is to do a skin-patch, a thin layer of hotmix asphalt over a minor deteriorated section of street improving the road surface for future chip sealing.
Every year streets are evaluated and cracks are sealed as needed. An effective crack sealing program will help to extend the life of streets by preventing water from getting under the pavement. It is the freeze/thaw cycles we experience during our winters and early springs which can cause streets to begin to deteriorate. Crews widen/route the cracks and blow them clean, pre-heat the crack, pump in liquid asphalt, and place biodegradable paper over the asphalt to allow the street to be open for traffic with minimal delays.
CHIP SEALING AND SEALCOATING
In recent years the City has been retaining the services of a private firm to accomplish chip sealing and sealcoating of City streets. Streets are first crack sealed or skin-patched by City crews as explained above. Chip sealing involves placing a thin layer of emulsified oil followed by a cover of gravel chips or boiler slag. The excess chips/slag are swept up within a few days.