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Dave Olson, Published October 01 2012

Dry conditions may mean more potholes on Fargo roads

FARGO – Infrastructure around Fargo is feeling the effects of a very dry summer, with shifting ground causing damage to sidewalks, streets and water mains.

Ben Dow, the city’s director of operations, told city commissioners Monday night that with the soils under city streets contracting, “We’re seeing some major fractures.”

When water eventually penetrates those fractures and the spring freeze/thaw cycle begins, Fargo could experience serious potholes, according to Dow, who added that shifting subsoil is already causing manholes and other structures to stick up from the street surface, creating hazards for drivers.

In addition, Dow said Fargo is experiencing a slew of water main breaks, with almost 40 reported in the past two months.

That, he said, compares to 45 water main breaks reported in all of last year.

Most of the pipes experiencing breaks are old cast iron sections that are scheduled to be replaced anyway, but officials said it will take another 10 years to take care of the city’s remaining 55 miles of cast iron mains.

Sidewalks, too, are being damaged by the dry conditions and where sections have dropped or shifted markedly, the city is putting up cones or barriers to alert pedestrians to the danger.

Dow urged anyone who spots a problem that is not being addressed to call the city. He also advised that trees in the city be watered, especially newly planted ones, in order to avoid a die-off or serious reductions in leaf production next year.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555