Crews working around the clock to drain puddles, patch potholes, city says

Just like tulips and robins — potholes are a true sign of spring.

'Ah spring. The most treacherous time of year'

There are more than a few puddles and potholes to contend with on Edmonton roads this week. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

The streets of Edmonton are pockmarked with craters filled with muddy water that threaten to deflate tires and splash unsuspecting pedestrians.

Just like tulips and robins — potholes are a true sign of spring.

The puddles and water-filled ruts are proving to be a big nuisance for commuters on foot and behind the wheel.

Michael Smith likened the current road conditions to a moonscape.

"I'm not saying the River Valley Road has a significant number of serious craters but I just saw the Chinese Space Agency sussing out landing sites for their lunar module," Smith wrote.

Fellow commuter Lila Bowtell described spring in Edmonton as "the most treacherous time of year."

A sudden spring thaw has flooded streets across the city, said Andrew Grant, the city's general supervisor for infrastructure field operations.

Since temperatures turned balmy this past weekend, crews have been working overtime to drain the streets, Grant said.

"We're seeing some ponding throughout our streets," Grant said in an interview Tuesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. 

"Our crews are working 24 hours a day, trying to free up some of the catch basins around the city. But we encourage citizens, if they do see any safety critical areas, to call 311 and we'll get our crews out to tackle it."

Crews armed with plows, shovels and pickaxes are hacking away at ice-clogged sewer drains, Grant said.

The work is being done largely on a complaints-driven basis. Contacting the city's non-emergency service is the best way to get city crews to work in your neighbourhood.

"If it is flooding an entire street, our crews will take care of that safety concern right away," Grant said.

But flooding isn't the only concern. Once all that water drains off or evaporates, the city will have a new crop of potholes to contend with.

Work to repair them has already begun, said Caitlin Zerebeski, general supervisor for mobility network maintenance for the city.

City inspectors have been hitting the streets to scout for potholes and draft a priority list for repairs.

The city relies on people to report potholes by calling 311, using the 311 app or using the online pothole reporting tool, Zerebeski said.

High-priority locations will be inspected within 24 hours and repaired within two days, weather permitting. Lower priority locations will be inspected within five days and repaired within a month.

"While the crews are helping to lift the remaining snow that's left on the road and dealing with the ponding, we're working on the potholes."