ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The woman at work in the little brown brick office building at 456 Burgess Street does the business of the City of St. Paul. But lately she's been hearing from a lot of other communities.
"Little Canada, Plymouth, Woodbury," reads Heather Vasquez from her list. "Wayzata, Bloomington, Red Wing, Burnsville, Northfield." She could go on. Cities from as far away as Duluth have been calling, because Vasquez is the person who takes the orders for the asphalt plant that operates out back.
"Every single one of them says, 'I've heard a rumor that you're opening on Monday,'" she laughs.
The rumors are true. Workers for the city of St. Paul were busy testing the equipment Friday to begin production of hot asphalt a month earlier than usual.
For anyone driving in the Twin Cities, there should be no mystery why. "Potholes, potholes everywhere," says Kevin Nelson, the city's street maintenance engineer.
Nelson says St. Paul's pothole crop is the worst in more than a decade. "We're getting hundreds of calls a day just letting us know where the potholes are."
The problems started with the rain that came with the Christmas snowstorm, soaking into cracks to begin the freeze and thaw cycle potholes so love.
Hot asphalt works much better than the winter blends cities use, so the early opening of the st. Paul plant is a godsend for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the city of Minneapolis and every other community that buys asphalt from St. Paul.
But don't take our word for it, ask Heather Vasquez. "They want their asphalt, they want it now."
(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)