Towns preaching patience about potholes

Nicholas Mercer
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It seems pothole season in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region came early and town officials are preaching patience as winter becomes spring.

Potholes like this one in Bay Roberts have been plaquing motorists in the region.

What is normally a rite of passage for motorists in the spring of the year, a unique winter has proven to be difficult on roadways all over the province.

“Patience is one thing we’re telling people,” said Bay Roberts director of public works Sean Elms. “It’s being patient and informing us. If you see a pothole that hasn’t been filled in, please call the town and we’ll get to it as soon as possible.”

This winter there have been periods of frigid temperatures followed by stages thawing.

Elms said he has crews constantly moving around the town and filling in potholes.

“We fill it in as soon as we can and monitor it,” he said.

This weather cycle has been wreaking havoc on roadways. With the snow and ice thawing during the warm periods this winter, water has been moving into cracks in the pavement created when it expands and contracts.

This water freezes in these cracks at night and chips away at the asphalt, until it reaches a point where a car driving over a certain patch will collapse the pavement, creating the pothole.

“As soon as water gets into your asphalt, that causes problems,” said Elms.

“The freeze-thaw cycles is what does the road in,” added Carbonear’s director of public works Brian O’Grady.

Like Elms, O’Grady has been preaching patience with residents in his community.

“(Workers) are out there and they’re going to continue to be out there until the weather permits,” he said.


Full-time job

It has not mattered where in the region drivers have been, they’ve been finding potholes. That includes the Town of Carbonear.

“We’ve been filling (potholes) steadily,” said O’Grady.

Carbonear has been focusing on the main roads before moving to side streets and alleyways.

With the help of a mobile asphalt recycler, O’Grady said town staffers have been working to stem the pothole tide.

As the weather has warmed up, Carbonear has started using the recycler more.

When water gets in potholes, the real problem starts for motorists. It becomes impossible to judge the depth of the pothole, or if there is a pothole where the water is.

“We’ve been using a jackhammer to cut them out, and a tiger torch to dry them out so that we can fill them,” he said.

Bay Roberts does not have the luxury of a recycler, although it is something being looked at by the town, according to Elms.

As a result, the town has been using Class-A to fill in its potholes. It is a material made from blasted rock and crushed to one inch.

“There are no asphalt plants open yet,” said Elms.



Service centre calls

Services centres around the region have been seeing a lot of buckled rims and destroyed tire walls.

But, there is no indication this year has been more severe then others.

“It seems like every year after the winter, there is an influx for about a week or two,” said Robert Bartlett.

Bartlett is the owner/operator of Bartlett’s Service Station in Bay Roberts.

“It’s definitely an ongoing problem this time of year,” he said.

Potholes can be costly to drivers.

Bartlett said prices can range from $85 to upwards to $900 depending on the vehicle and tire.

“We had a Mercedes in the other day and just one rim was roughly $450,” he said. “In some of these cars, not only do you have a rim that’s close to $500, but you have performance tire on it that is probably a couple hundred.”

March 20 was the first official day of spring and with the turning of the season, officials are hoping for warmer temperatures.

In the meantime, they are urging motorists to heed caution.

“Driving slow is important,” said Elms.

Geographic location: Bay Roberts, Carbonear

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