Motorists cope with rocky road – again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2001

BROWNSDALE – Attention "Washboard Road" motorists: Help is on the way.

Wednesday, March 14, 2001

BROWNSDALE – Attention "Washboard Road" motorists: Help is on the way.

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation has promised to do all it can to smooth drivers’ paths.

"Washboard Road" is what residents along a stretch of Highway 56 call the highway. Potholes from the intersection with Interstate 90 north to the city of Brownsdale have rendered the highway a rough ride for the second year in a row.

The ingredients of a hard winter provide the recipe for potholes. Snow, ice and rain provide ample moisture and severe cold causes pavement cracking that allows water to seep in, expand and displace paving materials.

Add sunlight, which creates varying temperatures that keep the damaging freeze/thaw cycle in motion and finally warmer springlike weather accelerates the freeze-thaw cycle that causes pavement to deteriorate even more quickly.

That’s what has happened along Highway 56, where drivers are trying to steer around potholes or even take to the road shoulder to avoid them.

Things got so bad that Mower County Sheriff Barry J. Simonson requested extra patrols from the Minnesota State Patrol and pledged that his deputies also would give the highway closer scrutiny.

Driving on the road shoulder is illegal. The shoulders, according to Simonson, are for emergency stopping only.

According to MnDOT, crews are doing all they can.

"We’re attacking potholes on several fronts," said Mark Wikelius, MnDOT state maintenance engineer. "In the short-term, we’re using the automated patcher to make repairs as quickly as possible.

"In the long-term, we are expanding our use of Superpave and other advanced pavement designs that we hope will greatly reduce the potential for damage such as potholes to develop," Wikelius said.

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at