Caution: More potholes ahead

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

REPAIR WORK: Cities prepare for more road damage because of this winter?s harsher than usual weather

The Province

Snow and ice aren’t the only hazards Lower Mainland drivers face this winter — potholes are also causing issues across the region.

“There will be more potholes — there always is after cold weather,” said Jamie Umpleby, director of public works for the City of Coquitlam. “It really isn’t unexpected for this to happen.”

Potholes form when water gets into cracks in asphalt, seeps in between layers and into the ground underneath, then freezes, expands and causes larger cracks. When the ice thaws, the weakened asphalt collapses.

Thanks to the multiple freezing and thawing cycles that have taken place since early December, potholes are popping up everywhere, from the Oak Street Bridge in Vancouver to the streets of Surrey.

Although most City of Vancouver staff are focused on snow and ice mitigation, a couple of crews began to repair potholes on Tuesday, starting with high-priority locations.

The city anticipates more damage than usual due to the weather. Each year, Vancouver repairs an average of 32,000 potholes.

Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s manager of engineering operations, said the city typically deals with 7,000 potholes per year and the last harsh winter, which was 2008/2009, added about 2,000 potholes to the annual tally.

Since the week of Dec. 5, when the snow first started to fall, Costanzo’s department has fielded 192 service requests about potholes. Many of those requests include multiple people complaining about the same pothole. In December, crews filled in 700 potholes.

Other than that, Costanzo said, there have been no major road issues.

“We just don’t have enough snow,” he said. “It’s relatively tame compared to other parts of Canada, where they have greater concerns.”

So far, the City of North Vancouver’s main roads have not been hit by many extra potholes, but the freezing and thawing cycles will likely result in more road maintenance when temperatures become more spring like.

“Right now our priority is ensuring the streets are cleared and passable, particularly the main roads and collector routes,” said city spokeswoman Connie Rabold.

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