It's that time of winter again when our Missoula streets begin losing their long battle against winter and begin to resemble the Baja 500 on a bad day, rather than the peaceful streets of the Garden City.

We're talking about Pothole Season. And from what we've been able to notice this year the potholes are winning in a battle more lopsided than that NFC Championship football game.

Potholes, ruts, frost heaves, tank traps. Whatever you want to call them, they're brought about by the same combination of pounding vehicle traffic, pavement, and soil imperfections at and below the surface of the street and the cycle of freezing and thawing.

And this year in particular, that last part started at the beginning of November and hasn't let up.

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This week brought a parade of potholes

The warmup from last weekend's subzero temperatures has really given the upper handle to the holes. You've probably noticed it on the daily commute, with a new obstacle to avoid every morning.

The Missoula Public Works staff have noticed it too, and they're asking everyone to not just complain, but to give let them know about the craters in your neighborhood.

Once again this winter, the city has its "Report a Pothole" form on its main webpage under the How Do I? tab, which is right at the top of the page. Then a crew can be dispatched to quickly make repairs.

Don't "help" with holes

In the summer, crews use a special "Dura-Patcher" for street repair. But in the winter the oil it needs isn't available, and can't be heated to the right temperature even if it was. Instead, Streets crews uses two large patch trucks, and two pickups which can move quickly down a street, applying a "cold patch" in a matter of minutes.

The city asks for the form, not funny business, which can actually slow down the whole process. The department asks that you don't try and fill the potholes yourself, with dirt, flowers or anything else to try and make a political statement. That just means crews have to spend longer cleaning things up before making the patch, and that creates more problems for your neighbors.

Learn more: Missoula's pothole page

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