Pothole season comes to Calgary, again

Calgarians have to be on the lookout for potholes after the spring thaw. The issue surfaces every year in the city and can be blamed completely on the weather.

Tire shops, road crews kept busy

It's a bumpy ride on some city streets after the spring thaw opened up many potholes. 2:51

Calgarians have to be on the lookout for potholes after the spring thaw.

“This year might be a little worse than the others with the amount of snowfall we got, but generally it's pretty bad,” said resident Ken Hicks.

The issue surfaces every year in the city and can be blamed completely on the weather.

"I would say it's pretty dangerous," said Calgary's Julia Jungwirth. 

Potholes form when water seeps into the pavement and then freezes and expands. When the temperature rises and the ice melts, the road cracks and crumbles under passing vehicles — and that can cause damage.

“It can create a lot of issues — alignment being one of them which is one of the more major issues — but popped tires, bent rims, the list goes on,” said tire technician Nick Zappa. “So we usually do inspect the vehicle after something like that.”

Zappa says this year there have been at least two or three pothole complaints a day.

“It seems to be worse to me — just the volume of people coming into the shop,” he said.

Report potholes to 311

Researchers at a lab in Edmonton — the only one of its kind in Canada — are trying to find a solution to the pothole problem.

They are mixing and measuring potions to make asphalt that is more resistant in a freeze-thaw environment.

“We're looking for materials that perform better [and] change characteristics and makeup to give us better performance on our roadways,” said engineer Hugh Donovan.

Until they do, the City of Calgary will continue to fix about 40,000 potholes every year. And so far officials say 2014 is shaping up to be business as usual.

"The freeze thaw cycle is really what creates the potholes," said transportation spokesperson Carissa Vescio. "We haven't had a lot of thaw this winter so the pothole situation is pretty normal."

But she said crews are ready to go.

“The weather patterns indicate it could be a regular season, once the snow melts we might actually see that could be something different,” said Vescio.

To report a pothole call 311, or snap a picture and send it to the city using their mobile app. The city says a crew will be sent in a day or so for a temporary fix. 

The more permanent repairs can't be done until the snow melts completely, which is probably the end of April.


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