City of Duluth Testing Formula to Fix Potholes

The City of Duluth is still working on the logistics when it comes to adaptive equipment and cost, so there's no current timeline as to when this project will begin.

DULUTH, Minn. – It’s no secret Duluth streets have many potholes.

You probably drive over a few every day, but the city is working toward a solution to eliminate this widespread problem.

Potholes are frustrating to deal with and the city is testing a new formula meant to repair the streets and roads.

“We’ve done similar repairs a couple of years ago and it has held up,” said Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) Senior Minerals Researcher Larry Zanko.

A mixture of liquid and dry ingredients made up of mostly taconite tailings is what the city of Duluth believes will fix the potholes around town.

The NRRI on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus developed the base formula.

“The tailings have iron in them as well,” said Zanko. “There’s some reactivating in them, but they more of the strength in the mix itself.”

The city has used asphalt in the past to repair streets and roads.

“This is a repair that’s better matched, say for rigid repair or rigid pavement like this one,” said Zanko. “But we’re also working on the formulation to have it better suited to work with asphalt too.”

Compared to asphalt this formula sets quickly and is drivable in 20 minutes.

During her State of the City, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson mentioned pothole repairs as a priority.

Lincoln Park is part of the innovation zone.

That’s where the pothole demonstration using this method took place.

“We’re excited about this product and it has a place in our little toolbox of maintenance for our streets,” said Duluth Street Maintenance Manager Greg Guerrero.

NRRI is confident the updated material can withstand Minnesota winters.

“Maintenance crews want it to last a season and preferably two to three years if not longer,” said Zanko.

The taconite waste is locally sourced and comes directly from the Iron Range.

“This is really working as a regional economy to find a way to fill our needs as a city here and doing that by pushing the edge of research and by bringing in that regional economy,” said Larson.

The City of Duluth is still working on the logistics when it comes to adaptive equipment and cost, so there’s no current timeline as to when this project will begin.

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