An asphalt truck cruised through southwest Rapid City on Tuesday morning bound for the intersection of West Saint Patrick and Fremont streets, where residents had earlier complained of a pothole.
Once they had parked, the two city Public Works crewmen aboard set to oiling, filling and smoothing it over. When they finished a few minutes later, Street Superintendent Dale Pfeifle crouched over the cooling patch of asphalt, a stencil in one hand and a can of white spray paint in the other, and added the finishing touch: a Domino's Pizza logo.
The pizza chain announced in November that it was awarding Rapid City a $5,000 grant as part of the national "Paving for Pizza" promotion, which launched last year with the goal of repairing potholes in 50 locations in as many states. Customers had to nominate their cities online in order for them to be considered.
"Rapid City had the most people that responded to the inquiry (in the state)," said David Shearer, director of operations for Domino's franchises in Rapid City. "We beat Sioux Falls."
City engineers believe the donation will help to fill at least 400 potholes in the coming months.
For the Street Division, Pfeifle said that pothole patching season begins in earnest each April when the asphalt plant that Rapid City contracts with reopens for business. While the annual cost of repairs varies based on need — and has in the past has been as much as $50,000 — Pfeifle said he expects the city to spend between $25,000 and $30,000 on potholes this year.
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Pfeifle said the number of potholes that city crews respond to in a given day depends on their severity and can range from two dozen to 60. He said it's not uncommon for them to go through six tons of asphalt a day, and the city has estimated that its pothole hotline — which can be reached at 394-4152 — receives more than 1,000 calls a year.
Potholes don't appear to affect one part of town more than any other, but Pfeifle said they are common on older streets that are more susceptible to damage from freeze-thaw cycles and heavy motor traffic.
“West Boulevard has a considerable amount of potholes because it’s a pretty old neighborhood,” he said.
Recent temperature and weather fluctuations are cause for what Pfeifle expects to be a particularly high number of potholes this year.
Pfeifle said that patching will continue until the plant closes again for the season. Although the city uses cold mix asphalt to make repairs in colder months, Pfeifle said it does not hold up as long as its hot mix counterpart.
"Pothole season never actually ends," he said.