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Land of 10,000 lakes and 1,000,000 potholes

As the Midwest shifts away from winter and into the later stages of March, there is more that Concordia students can be expecting besides warmer weather and potential floods – potholes. 

Throughout the winter season, teams of snowplow drivers worked continuously to clear the roads and parking lots of ice – with varying degrees of success. However, snow and ice often were not the only things removed from the roads, as pieces of asphalt and tar were sometimes scraped off alongside it, to be dumped alongside the road. 

Currently, 1,416 Concordia students have parking permits for the campus, said Melissa Ochoa, Concordia’s Parking Technician and Transportation Specialist. Six hundred and five of those permits were issued to students who live off campus and drive to class each day.  

The city of Moorhead Public Works crews are responsible for clearing the roads of snow during the winter and fixing potholes in late spring and summer. However, it takes time for crews to begin maintenance efforts, meaning Concordia students often spend the spring semester dodging potholes.  

“Every day I drive to school, and every day I subject my poor vehicle to potholes. To be completely honest, every pothole I hit ruins my day, and my suspension,” said Cate Satoris, a sophomore at Concordia.  

Concordia is situated in the heart of Moorhead. While the location is ideal for students who want access to a number of stores and restaurants in the surrounding area, it also has the unfortunate effect of subjecting students to a highly traveled road, one that sees a large amount of damage each spring. 

“Eighth street’s the worst,” said Anna Kronbeck, a sophomore at Concordia, “though Main Ave is not great either. Every time I run an errand or just want to get off campus for a little bit, I seem to be worried I am either going to lose a tire or somehow ruin my car anytime I hit a pothole.” 

The issue with Eighth street’s potholes was further affirmed by Miah Sandvik, a junior at Concordia. 

“It’s practically a channel along the road because all of the potholes are lining up,” said Sandvik. “I’m the kind of person who will hit a pothole dead on… and every year I’m surprised by them.” 

While the appearance of potholes is nothing new for many students, some could not help but speculate if the late winter snow storms the city has seen this year could play a role in worsening the road’s conditions.  

“There was a period in late February and early March where it felt like we were getting a blizzard every couple of days, and maybe that could put more strain on the roads. They were definitely having to be cleaned a lot by plows,” said Satoris. 

“I wonder if this year’s winter, since it was so wet, and the temperature fluctuated so much, if it has led to worse potholes this year compared to others,” said Sandvik. 

Winter impacts road conditions on 8th St S in Moorhead. | Lauren Melton

Traffic and water are the two components which play the most critical role in the creation of potholes. High trafficked roads often see more extensive damage to their pavement compared to residential roads. The presence of water, which is extremely common in Minnesota in winter, makes everything much worse. Snowplows do not directly lead to the creation of potholes, though they are a part of the traffic that can make them worse. 

While Concordia students agree that the number of potholes around campus is unfortunate, it appears they at least prefer them to ice.  

“If I have to choose between a couple of bumps in the road while I’m driving, or my car continuing to slide toward a stop sign even while I’m hitting the brake because everything is covered in ice, I’d rather have the potholes,” said Kronbeck 

In the past, Moorhead has seen snow as late as April, so while warmer weather may be just around the corner, snowplows likely are not going away just yet. This means the potholes are here to stay for a little longer as well.  


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