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Boiling over: Hancock council discusses fixing frost boils on gravel streets

One of the frost boils on a gravel street in Hancock. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times

The city of Hancock has some asphalt fill that can be used to fix frost boils in gravel streets but the council wants more information before getting to work.

City maintenance supervisor Adam Hanson said at the June 10 council meeting that John Jepma of Jepma Backhoe gave a rough estimate of $41,000 to fix four frost boils on gravel streets in the city. The January-March 2016 edition of Technology News from Iowa Local Technical Assistance Program describes frost boils as what's created when moisture from spring thaws or precipitation cannot adequately drain. As frost melts pressure is released through a path of least resistance which results in a muddy mess or boil.

"He stressed that was very much an estimate," Hanson said.

Hanson said the actual cost would be lower because Jepma could use material from the city's fill pile.

Mayor Bruce Malo suggested Hanson obtain an estimate from a second contractor and get a revision from Jepma which includes using city fill.

The council agreed to Malo's suggestion.

While the boil work won't be done this month, the council agreed the boils needed fixing. The boils are near what the council referred to as the Schaefer building, near the existing compost pile, near Westside Park and near TLC Pet Care.

"The one by the Schaefer building has got to be fixed for sure if we are moving the compost site," Malo said.

The city will move the existing compost site to an area near the Schaefer building but not until at least the end of summer.

"We've got to do them all. We don't have much street work (this year)," council member Bob Staples said.

"We haven't spent a dime on gravel roads," council member Jeff Flaten said.

Council member Jeff Kisgen, who works for the Stevens County Highway Department, said frost boils will improve over the summer but they will return in the spring.

The council discussed how much of the street area would be included in the boil repair. Should the repair go from curb to curb or focus on the center of the boil?

Drivers are using more of the gravel roads as they drive around the edges of the frost boil, Staples said.

Kisgen said the width of the repair may depend on the street.

The council said Hanson can ask contractors for feedback on the width of repair when he contacts them for an estimate and more information.

The council said the gravel streets with the four discussed frost boils should remain marked.