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More growth, more potholes: City of Bozeman says expanding town causing road wear-and-tear

Posted at 3:22 PM, May 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-30 18:14:09-04

BOZEMAN – Rough roads continue to cause problems for some Bozeman drivers. The city’s growth might be partially to blame.

Another Durston Road pothole now exists at the intersection of Love Lane.

Many drivers have scraped bottom when they hook left-hand turns.

While this is just outside of the city’s jurisdiction, the city engineer, Shawn Kohtz, says it’s the same traffic activity making this one bigger that is doing the same closer to town.

“With the growth, you are adding traffic demand and not all traffic demands are created equal,” Kohtz says.

With more people, you need more homes. More homes, more big trucks are needed to build them — and with more trucks, more potholes.

“If you combine the next three largest growing cities in Montana, they total the growth in Bozeman,” Kohtz says.

To those who deal with roads like Kohtz, it’s a careful science.

“When we design our roads, we design them to try to accommodate where we think the higher traffic demands are going to be,” Kohtz says.

For example…

“On 19th, we build a thicker road section to accommodate that increased traffic,” Kohtz says. “On our local streets, we’ll narrow that down a little bit so we can bring down the cost.”

Roads like Cottonwood demonstrate the impact made by big trucks.

“A car, for example, has a different impact on a road than an 18-wheeler trailer and so much so that the impact of an 18-wheeler trailer, fully loaded, is 3,000 times the impact of a car,” Kohtz says.

Kohtz says that same growth is also helping to pay for road work.

“The city requires impact fees to be paid with building permits and we use part of those impact fees to build new roads,” Kohtz says.

But with a limited budget, he says it’s a tough battle to win.

“Our crews were out there, working in some pretty extreme conditions,” Kohtz says. “We don’t want the potholes to be out there.”

Kohtz says the Bozeman Street Report and online Report-a-Pothole program is there for you to use to stay informed and report problem spots.