Patching 32nd Avenue potholes a 'temporary fix' until summer project

The Streets Department has started patching potholes on 32nd Avenue South in Grand Forks, a process the city hopes will buy time before a larger reconstruction project later in the year.

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Motorists in the eastbound lane of 32nd Avenue South in Grand Forks negotiate potholes Monday, April 10, 2023.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald<br/>

GRAND FORKS — The Streets Department has started patching potholes on 32nd Avenue South in Grand Forks, a process the city hopes will buy time before a larger reconstruction project later in the year.

In the meantime, motorists are left to navigate the uneven road as the potholes emerge from under the snow and ice.

David Kuharenko, assistant city engineer, said patching is “just to buy us time,” for a couple of reasons.

The potholes are caused by snow melting, allowing water into cracks in the asphalt, where it re-freezes. In a number of areas throughout the city, roads are made of concrete, with a top layer of asphalt.

“It gets between that layer of asphalt and concrete, and then at night, when the temperatures drop, ice forms,” said Kuharenko. “... When water freezes to ice, it expands. And so it ends up popping that layer of asphalt off.”


This is the main cause of many potholes in Grand Forks, and explains why they often show up in the spring.

“A lot of those patches that they’ll put in, they’re kind of temporary,” Kuharenko said.

As temperatures fluctuate, more melting and freezing is possible.

The patches will be temporary because the North Dakota Department of Transportation plans to remove the top layer of asphalt on 32nd Avenue South to put in a new layer this summer. In concrete areas, the NDDOT plans to do concrete panel replacement.

“We know that whatever we patch this spring is going to get removed as part of that upcoming project,” Kuharenko said.

The area is under the Department of Transportation's jurisdiction, so it covers “larger capital projects.” The city handles more general maintenance, according to Kuharenko.

The project will span 32nd Avenue South from Interstate 29 to South Washington Street.

Kuharenko said a layer of asphalt on top of concrete is “one way to provide a smooth surface that’s relatively inexpensive.”


The asphalt layer, though, results in higher maintenance costs as roads deteriorate significantly in as few as 10 years, depending on traffic levels.

Kuharenko said 17,000 to 24,000 vehicles travel 32nd Avenue South per day, depending on the section. He said the road was last rehabilitated in 2013.

The city has many of its own street projects planned for this year, including the reconstruction of the following areas:

  • South 12th Street (Park Drive to 25th Avenue South).
  • South 14th Street (11th Avenue South to 14th Avenue South).
  • 14th Avenue South (South Washington Street to South 14th Street).
  • Legend Lane (28th Avenue South to Legend Lane).
  • Second Avenue North (North Washington Street to North 18th Street).
  • South 20th Street (17th Avenue South to 20th Avenue South).
  • South Washington Street (South End Drainway to 57th Avenue South).

Additionally, the city has plans for a 2023 asphalt mill and overlay project. The project proposes milling and overlaying asphalt roadways in these areas:

  • Princeton Street (Fifth Avenue North to 6th Avenue North).
  • Harvard Street (University Avenue to 6th Avenue North).
  • Cambridge Street (University Avenue to 6th Avenue North).
  • Hamline Street (University Avenue to 6th Avenue North).
  • Fifth Avenue North (Hamline Street to Princeton Street).
  • DeMers Avenue Railroad Crossing (west of North 55th Street).

“We’re not on every single block every single day of the week,” said Kuharenko. “And so one of the things that is extremely helpful to us is if residents end up calling [issues] in.”
Residents can call 311, or go to the city’s website, to report a number of issues – including potholes.

“Then we can end up filtering it to whichever department handles those areas of concern to get those addressed as quickly as possible,” Kuharenko said.

Sav Kelly joined the Grand Forks Herald in August 2022.

Kelly covers public safety, including local crime and the courts system.

Readers can reach Kelly at (701) 780-1102 or
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