As ubiquitous as snow to the Prairie winter, the spring that follows brings forth that great menace to cars, trucks, and the sanity of drivers — potholes.
And though spring has not yet officially sprung, potholes are out in full force on the streets of Red Deer.
Freeze-thaw cycles lead to pothole creation, as moisture enters pavement cracks, then freezes and expands, putting pressure on the cracks and causing the surrounding asphalt to break away. Vehicle traffic over a small pothole can eventually create a behemoth, as the edges gradually break off.
This year projects to be particularly bad in terms of potholes for communities across Alberta, said Jim Chase, the city’s Public Works roads superintendent, as there has been a higher number of freeze-thaw cycles this winter. Locally, he said 55th Street has been identified as a particular trouble spot so far.
Though the city’s full-on pothole repair operation gets going in April with a dedicated crew, city workers have been out for the last few weeks working on the road hazards. They are also uncovering catch basins around the city to ensure water can drain off the roads and not spill into cracks.
While city workers about town report pothole sightings back to the Public Works Department, citizens are also encouraged to do so online and by phone. Chase said crews, who may fill in 100 potholes daily and up to 6,000 annually, are then generally able to have the reported pothole filled in within 48 hours.
But, he added that citizens should be patient.
“This time of year is a tough time for us with snow melt, flooding, and potholes appearing. It’s a challenging time for us and we do the best we can,” explained Chase.
One online poster to the city’s Twitter feed complained recently that a hit pothole will result in a $1,100 bill to repair damaged springs, while another likened the city’s major roads to a slalom course, with much swerving required to navigate them.
A 2012 Ipsos-Reid citizen satisfaction survey showed Red Deerians overwhelmingly choosing roads as the city’s most pressing infrastructure priority, and giving the city’s job of managing road conditions the lowest score among five categories.
To report a pothole visit www.seeclickfix.com or www.reddeer.ca/onlineservices/reportaproblem.htm, or contact the Public Works department at 403-342-8238.