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We asked about St. Paul’s notorious potholes so you don’t have to

St. Paul's potholes seem deeper, the edges sharper, the impact somehow more personal.

St. Paul's potholes seem deeper, the edges sharper, the impact somehow more personal. St. Paul Public Works

It’s spring. The snow is melting. The rain is falling. And in the not-so-distant past, your car likely bounced six inches below the asphalt with a meaty thud.

A lot of questions probably went through your mind in that moment.

Questions like, “why?”

And “why do I drive in this city?”

And “is there a God or nah?”

The extra road salt in this wound is that it always seems to be worse in St. Paul. Why? Who knows. Maybe St. Paul just wasn’t kissed by the same cool hipster angel as Minneapolis. But for some reason, the potholes seem deeper, the edges sharper, the impact somehow more personal.

Before you pick up a phone and yell at the first public servant who answers – she does not need this, by the way – follow this quick pothole primer.

Is this year, like, the worst for potholes? Haha. No. Every year is the worst year, according to St. Paul Public Works spokesperson Lisa Hiebert.

“It’s pretty typical,” she says. The constant freeze-thaw cycle that characterized this year – and let’s face it, every year – serves mainly to pop entire islands of asphalt out of the ground like the devil’s icy chisel. Having frequent snow emergencies certainly hasn’t helped things either.

But it’s, like, way worse in St. Paul, right? Potholes are not St. Paul-specific, according to the St. Paul Public Works department. It’s a tough season for “everyone, everywhere,” says Hiebert.

Which Lovecraftian space monster do I pray to in order to make these potholes go away? Put that bloodstone circle away, because there are two ways to do that, and neither of them involve the worship of an eldrich god.

You can call the maintenance department (651-266-9700) or jot a quick email to [email protected] It helps, Hiebert says, to be specific. Give them an address, not a street name and a guarantee that it’s “just really bad over there.”

“To say a certain street is bad and ‘you need to get out there’ doesn’t let us prioritize the really bad ones,” she says.  

Isn’t my pothole the most important? No.

Are they fixing the potholes? St. Paul Public Works has 10 crews out there fixing potholes seven days a week, both addressing complaints and sweeping the streets for troublemakers. They’re the same folks who have been plowing all winter, so basically, the nature of your relationship has not changed.

Are they going to keep fixing the potholes? The city of St. Paul patches potholes year round. Because yes – winter is bad for roads. But do you know what else is bad for roads? Summer. Everything is bad for roads.

So there’s no escape? That is correct. You are trapped in a cycle of pain.

What now? Well, street sweeping starts April 16, so there’s that.