By Kathleen Hilliard.
Potholes on NSU’s campus continue to be a problem for drivers as funding issues have prevented them from being fixed promptly.
Dale Wohletz, physical plant director, mentioned that roads like Tarlton Drive were in great condition over two decades ago, and the potholes were less of an issue.
“Now we are having serious base failure on a lot of Tarlton Drive,” Wohlez said. “We repaired some of the worse areas last fall, but more are showing up after the extremely wet winter we are having.”
The potholes are becoming worse as the roads grow older. A lot of the roads weren’t built on a good base, meaning that no soil cement was used, and very little rock was used in the road base itself.
The price of the rebuilding and improvements is a large challenge facing the roads being repaired permanently.
“The road repair comes from student parking fees,” Wohlez said. “The amount was around $184,000 this year.” To put that in perspective, Wohlez stated that Sam Sibley Drive, from University Parkway to the Student Union four-way stop, was around $415,000 to repair two years ago.
Students on campus recognize this issue with the roads, and there have been incidents reported from these.
“The pothole basically knocked the air out of my tire,” Tre Jackson, a junior Hospitality Management and Tourism major, said. “It was on Tarlton Drive. It was dark, so I didn’t see it. The roads most definitely could use some more TLC [tender-loving care] than what it does receive.”
And Jackson wasn’t the only victim.
“Before I had a car and was mostly a pedestrian, I tripped in a pothole walking across the street from A. A. Fredricks to the FACS building. I twisted my ankle pretty badly,” Peyton Fitzhugh, a Sophomore Early Childhood Education major, said.
Fitzhugh also thinks that the administration doesn’t seem to prioritize the roads on campus like they should.
“They’ll put money into building a brand-new parking lot in front of the library, a brand-new bookstore and Chick-Fil-A but not repairing roads,” Fitzhugh said.
Wohlez noted that the potholes and roads on campus are just as much a priority as any other improvement on campus.
“It’s the first impression visitors get when they come on campus,” Wohlez said. “We would like to rebuild all the streets if we had the funding available. It’s an ongoing problem that will need to be addressed continuously, and we will upgrade streets across campus as funds become available.”
Repairing the roads are also not as easy as it could be because of the wet weather Natchitoches has been having lately.
The roads are repaired with an asphalt cold patch material that only works on dry surfaces. Wohlez mentioned that the City of Natchitoches Public has been bringing their pothole machine on campus to fix roads during break. Their use of hot asphalt and gravel holds up better.
“The main problem this winter has been all the rain,” Wohlez said, “We cannot patch, fill, repair potholes when water is in the holes. The material won’t stick and the hole will come right back.”
Wohlez said the university tries to fix these potholes in a timely manner, but that limited manpower slows down the process.