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Frost boils bubbling up on streets

An orange flag is posted next to a frost boil and cracked pavement on 21st Street Southwest in Willmar to warn motorists of the uneven road. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- Frost boils -- mounds of gravel and broken pavement -- are bubbling up again through Willmar streets. The boils occur when freezing and thawing conditions cause the soil to move and destroy the driving surface.

The Public Works Department counted 28 frost boils this year. The sites are marked with flags or cones to warn motorists until the sites are patched. The department has been making repairs since May 20 after hot-mix asphalt plants in the area resumed operations. The city hopes to have most repaired in time for Willmar Fests June 21, according to Holly Wilson, assistant city engineer.

This year's number of frost boils "is typical for the amount that we have,'' said Wilson. The boil is repaired by excavating, refilling and resurfacing the site. Wilson said a repaired frost boil usually doesn't return after the spot is patched, but a boil could surface on another part of the street.

"We don't usually see frost boils recur once we've reconstructed the street, but occasionally they can, but we typically don't,'' she said.

Wilson reported on repairs during this week's meeting of the City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee. Committee member Jim Dokken requested an update on frost boils and was particularly concerned about a large frost boil on Irene Avenue Southeast.

Dokken asked if the city has investigated the possibility of hiring a private company to make repairs. City Administrator Michael Schmit said the request was something officials could consider in the future.

Committee Ron Christianson repeated his request for Public Work Director Mel Odens to look into the possibility of using concrete to repair frost boils.

In other business, the committee recommended the council assess costs to property owners who benefit from this year's street improvement program. The council will hold the assessment hearing June 7.

The city will be reconstructing 1.2 miles of streets, overlaying 1.23 miles of streets, and constructing .39 mile of new streets.

The city received bids from three companies and Duininck Inc. of Prinsburg was the apparent low bidder at $1,684,877, which is 16 percent below the $2,006,132 engineer's estimate.

This year's proposed assessment cost of $55.88 per foot is below the 2009 assessment of $57 per foot. This year's overlay cost of $23.06 is below the engineer's estimate of $25 per foot.

In other business, the committee:

- Voted to sell the Fire Department's 1990 Lynch rescue van to the Grove City Fire Department for $45,000.

- Approved Fire Department practice burns at properties located at 518, 522 and 526 Second St. S.W. All are owned by Rice Hospital and Shared Health Resources; and approved a practice burn at 210 45th Ave. S.E., which is owned by United FCS.

- Approved cost reductions and additions totaling $9,708 in the contract with Di-Mar Construction for constructing the two industrial wastewater pump stations for the $86 million wastewater treatment project. The changes increase Di-Mar's contract to $1,951,729. Pump station work is nearly complete. John Bryant, lead resident project representative with the Willmar office of Donohue and Associates, said Di-Mar change orders have used only $12,000 of the $90,000 contingency fund for pump station work.

- Voted to apply for a grant through the Minnesota Institute of Public Health for reimbursement for costs of Police Department alcohol compliance checks. Police Chief Jim Kulset said successful applicants receive $30 per checked establishment. The department expects to check each licensed establishment twice a year and could receive from $1,200 and $1,350 per year.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150