Maybe the potholes are worse this year or maybe it just seems that way.
Whatever the case, Public Works is doing its best to fix the ugliest side of the spring thaw.
Crews have been deployed to trouble areas, thawing storm sewer basins and filling potholes. But those are tasks easier said than done.
“It’s a bit of tricky thing. There’s not a lot we can do to help the pothole situation,” Operations and Facilities manager Travis Rob told the Times.
“The biggest challenge that we have right now is getting the water off the roads,” he noted.
“A large portion of our storm sewer is frozen so we have a hard time getting the water off the roads.
“The first thing we need to do is go catch basin to catch basin and thaw out all of our storm sewers so all of that water can get off the roads,” Rob explained.
“Because we can go and pothole patch–and we did on the weekend, we had crews coming in and doing that,” he noted.
“But when the roads are so wet, it’s very, very temporary because the patch gets ‘beat out’ right away.”
The town has one crew thawing catch basins and two crews working on pothole patching today, and Rob is hoping Mother Nature co-operates.
“The issue is when we get precipitation or we get a few days back-to-back of really warm weather, and the snow’s melting fast and it’s overwhelming the storm sewers,” he remarked.
“That wet makes the pothole situation much worse.”
In the spots where it’s dry, crews can patch potholes. And if it’s dry enough, the patch will have time to set.
If it’s too wet, it’s won’t.
“We heat it [the patching mix], we put it in, we pack it,” Rob explained. “As the vehicles are going over, it further packs it in.
“And it will pack for a few days before it packs as much as it is going to pack.
“Once it’s packed in there, it takes–especially when it’s cold like this–a couple more days for it to really cure up and harden,” he added.
“Once it hardens, it forms part of the road and is fairly resistant to ‘ponding’ and standing water.
“But until it gets that chance to set, even if there’s water close by that it keeps getting splashed by, it [the patch] just washes away,” he said.
In the meantime, motorists are advised to keep their eyes open for potholes–many of which are filled with water at the moment–and steer clear, both to avoid damaging their vehicles and making the potholes even worse.
“If you see the car in front of you go through a pothole, it would help us if the next person in the line of cars move over and tried to avoid it,” Rob said.
“The more times it gets hit, the bigger and bigger a pothole gets,” he reasoned.
If they are aware of particularly bad stretch of road, motorists might consider a different route until the potholes can be fixed.
Some of the worst areas are the 500 block of Second Street East, Armit Avenue by Safeway, the westbound lane of the 200 block of Third Street West, Scott Street near the Memorial Sports Centre, and parts of the north end.
Crews were deployed to Second Street East this morning to start thawing the catch basins and to place pylons to clearly mark where the largest potholes are.