The pattern of freezing and thawing this winter has left Ottawa's city workers dealing with potholes much earlier than usual.

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The City of Ottawa fills as many as 180,000 potholes every year. (Submitted by Lana Stewart)

Snow removal and pothole patching are happening simultaneously, with 15 crews working on the damaged roads.

City crews, who fill between 130,000 and 180,000 holes annually at a cost of $6 million, say they will fix the major streets first and then work their way out from there.  

Coun. Tim Tierney said a recently opened complaints service on the city's website has received hundreds of complaints so far and more than half of them are about potholes. Tierney said there's a four- to eight-day turnaround time for most complaints, with potholes as a top priority.

Jacques Duval, who has been filling potholes for the city for five years, told CBC News Friday that the up-and-down temperatures have created perfect conditions for potholes.

Aging roads and tight budgets only make the problem worse, he said.

Worker says city should resurface more often

Duval said they should be resurfacing, not patching.

"Because of dollars, I guess, they're not overlaying the streets as much as before," he said. "So the streets are not as in quite as good condition as they used to be."

Kevin Wylie, the city's manager of roads and traffic, disagrees with that opinion.

"We actually work very well with the infrastructure people … and when we do come across a section of roadway that's gone beyond the patching capabilities that we have, they will come in and do an overlay," he said.

Fixes used to be made with cold patches, but Wylie said the hot-patch technology the city uses now is much more effective. 

"They won't have to go back for a while," he said. "They may have to go back when the frost starts coming out of the ground … It's much more permanent than it used to be."

Motorist Charles Ranger said it's been a bumpy ride the last few days, but he's trying not to get too rattled by it.

"Eventually it will be done," he said. "I guess it's that time of the year. It’s a little rough. If we're patient, our streets will be nice."

With files from David Gerow