There was a lot of snow left on Missoula’s streets late in the year and it created a perfect recipe for potholes. Brian Hensel is the Deputy Director of Public Works for Streets and he joking said it would have been easier for him if folks just drove around and threw dynamite out the window. He says the streets were that bad this season.

“Since January 1, we have patched over 3,900 potholes so far,” Hensel said. “They are starting to slow up. We get the call requests and my email is filled from top to bottom, but they are starting to slow down. We are starting to get there. With this more stable weather, we are having some luck and patches are lasting.”

Hensel says they are requesting around $75,000 for a pavement management system.

“We will hire a company,” Hensel said. “They will go around and they will drive every street, kind of like what google does with cameras and LiDAR. They will measure the condition of the streets, the existence of signs, sidewalks, sumps, storm drains and go out and give us an accurate current inventory of what our streets are like.”

According to Hensel, this would be a tremendous tool to help prioritize the assets they would get, the money they would need, and to predict future road conditions. He says they would likely have the company return every three to five years in an effort to expand those survey results. Hensel also talked a little bit about his budget.

“This is pre pavement management and it was a broad stroke estimate, between myself and the public works director, if we were to rehabilitate every street in Missoula that needs it, which are primarily residentials, we have about a $7 million a year gap that we don’t get,” Hensel said. “That is still going to take us 30 years to complete what we estimate the total to be.”

Hensel says he receives several calls for folks saying there is not enough budget for streets in Missoula. Hensel acknowledged that there are some shortfalls in their program, but he is hopeful that some steps will be taken to aggressively try to address the problem. Folks are encouraged to report potholes right here.