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Warming temps cause safety concerns

It’s the busiest time of the year for the Pocatello Street Operations Department – that transition between when temps were at the lowest, the streets were the snowiest, and when things are starting to warm up.

In fact, it’s causing those potholes we all know and love (and have probably driven into) to pop-up all over the streets. And while it’s fun for most people to drive into them to see how big the splash could get, it’s probably not a good idea.

Street Operations Superintendent Tom Kirkman said you never know just how deep these potholes are, and the water erosion on the asphalt could cause a sharp enough edge to puncture a tire.

He said right now they have had crews out patching holes, nonstop.

“It’s pretty much – you run from one to the next, and then the next day you start over,” Kirkman said of how quickly they need to fill the potholes before more pop up.

He said, since you can’t get conventional asphalt this time of the year, they are using an asphalt high in oil content. First, they have to brush the water out of the potholes as much as they can, before using a blow torch to heat it up. That’s when they finally put the temporary asphalt back in.

He said the department has been so busy, they already went through roughly 100 bags of temporary asphalt on Monday, alone. Each bag weighs roughly 50 pounds.

When it comes to the possibility of flooding meteorologists have been warning us about, Kirkman said the city has been prepared for this immense snow and ice melt that has already started.

He said crews have been chipping away at the snow and ice that have been clogging drains, in order to allow water runoff to have some place to go.

Also, it’s something fire and rescue crews have been warning folks about for weeks, now – the icy Portneuf River.

Today two dogs are still lost after their owners suspected the animals could have fallen into the river on two separate incidents this past Saturday.

Fire crews are warning folks that the river still has ice floating in it, and it’s far too easy for dogs to wander over and get caught in the freezing water.

“Emergencies, no matter what they are – especially around water, unfold very rapidly and people are overcome by the forces of nature much more rapidly than they thought,” Assistant Fire Chief Travis Smith said.

He would like to encourage folks to use a leash while walking their dogs near the river, and to make sure you don’t dive in to rescue them if you’re likely to become a victim yourself.

He said, although the river appears to be somewhat placid, the heavy snow runoff causes the river’s hydrolics to become much more powerful than people realize.

On top of that, he said the bottom of the river has an extremely deep, muddy layer which folks could easily find themselves stuck in.

Kirkman said sandbags are still available, and just like the city, it’s important to be prepared for any wet weather conditions that might arise.

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