Summer heat brings more effective road maintenance

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 6:32 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Lawton’s window for road maintenance has officially opened.

“A lot of the things that I have to have done to my car is from all the holes and ditches that are on the street. Then even if I try to go around the next street, the next street is basically the same,” said Suzie Osborn.

“Just driving down the road itself, it’s pretty bad on your suspension. I’ve had to replace a few of my front end parts,” said Dwight Franklin.

Both Franklin and Osborn live on Southwest 26th street, a road rated by the Lawton Pavement Management Program as poor.

And they’re not alone. The same report says nearly 40% of all Lawton roads fall below fair quality, and around half those are poor or very poor.

Now the city is racing to implement more permanent solutions during the few months of summer some refer to as “asphalt season”, since they can only make temporary fixes during the winter.

“Asphalt materials as well as our lane stripping, a lot of the materials we rely on require dry ground conditions and temperatures above fifty degrees. So during those months we’re able to 1) get the material in, and 2) be able to complete larger projects,” said the superintendent of the city’s streets and traffic department Cliff Haggenmiller.

But when demand for better roads exceeds supply, the city has to decide which streets deserve the most attention.

“It’s very difficult as most know around here, there’s a lot of streets. There’s a lot of need for the roads. So it’s trying to make sure we’re making the best out of the dollar,” said Haggenmiller. “Are we better spending that dollar in keeping a good road good, or are we better putting that dollar on a bad road that’s just a money pit and its going to continually get worse until funding is able to be identified to rebuild it.”

While the city decides what should be a priority, it leaves some people at the mercy of the road.

“I had talked to the peoples at the city years ago, and a couple of months back and asked them if they could do things a little different for us because it would do a lot better for my car not to go and break down from all the ditches and holes,” said Osborn.

“They always want us to keep our residential area nice and clean, but the streets aren’t being cleaned,” added Franklin.

If your car is damaged due to poor road conditions, Haggenmiller says you can put in a request to city council to be reimbursed.