Drivers in Waterloo Region are likely going to face bumpier roads over the next few months thanks to a colder winter that is preventing road crews from doing permanent repairs to potholes.
“Honestly they’re going to get a little worse before they get better," said Scott Berry, the manager of maintenance operations for the City of Kitchener, in an interview Thursday.
"We’ve got to get that frost out of the ground, we’ve probably got a lot of rains coming, and the rains ... they go in the cracks and the holes where we haven’t done our repairs yet, and they saturate the material.
"It’s hard to do a permanent repair in those environmental conditions where your base is super-saturated like that, you just can’t compact."
Berry said that road crews are facing two kind of challenges when it comes to road repair – potholes, which form when the ground freezes and thaws, and utility cuts, the square or rectangle cuts made by road crews to access and fix a broken water main under the road.
When water from a broken pipe has been leaking for a while, Berry says it's hard to get the soil to compact enough for crews to do a proper fix on the road utility cuts, especially when crews don't have access to asphalt in the winter.
Waterloo sees spike in water main issues
Bill Garibaldi, the Deputy Commissioner of Public Works for the city of Waterloo, says how the asphalt responds to warmer weather over the next few months will determine how much the city will need to spend on fixing roads.
"If we start to see numerous freeze-thaws throughout the day, rainy, wet, it's going to produce potholes, and that's really [regardless] of how deep the frost went," Garibaldi said.
Garibaldi says the city hasn't seen a rise in potholes, but the weather has caused about 20 per cent more more water mains to break compared to previous years.
Berry: deepest frost line in a decade
Berry expects that the weather means road repairs will continue in Kitchener throughout the spring.
"We’re going to see a pothole season that will probably run us through April and a good part of May and then things will be in significantly better shape," said Berry.
“I know when I’m driving into work today some of the road sections are almost like a bit of a roller coaster, just because they’re up and down, up and down, and we haven’t seen frost to that degree in quite a while."
Berry said the frost is the deepest he’s seen in at least a decade.
He’s received reports from utility crews reporting the frost line extending well over six feet in some places. Typically the frost line is around three to four feet deep, said Berry.