Pothole Patching

How Is It Done?

The City of Missoula spends on average 3,000 hours a year patching potholes. The Patching Fleet consists of three patch trucks:

  • Two of the trucks carry hot asphalt in a heated hopper on the back of the truck and discharge the asphalt out of the hopper onto pothole. Two crew members then rake the asphalt to the desired grade of the road and compact it.
  • The third truck requires only one employee, who stays in the cab during patching operations. On the front of the truck is a nozzle that extends out over the pothole. The operator mixes rock chips and oil filling the pothole and then applies dry rock chips to the surface. The entire process is discharged through the nozzle.

Why Do Potholes Occur?

Potholes are especially common in areas that experience winter weather conditions that consist of many freeze-thaw cycles. Potholes are caused by the expansion of water under the pavement. When the water freezes, it expands the asphalt, and as the ice melts, the asphalt contracts. The expanding and contracting, combined with vehicles driving over the area, breaks down the asphalt to create a pothole.

What Should Residents Do?

Please let us know about the ones you see. Complete the Report a Pothole form or call 406-552-6360.

Did You Know?

The City of Missoula has an asphalt recycler. This machine recycles used asphalt from construction debris and turns it into asphalt patching material. During winter months when asphalt plants are closed, this recycler allows our crews to use hot asphalt to patch potholes.

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