City will do emergency pothole repair to Main Street West - which is 'almost gravel'

Potholes are a problem everywhere this year, the city says. But Main Street West is "like driving off road."

'If you want to four wheel, instead of going to the desert or out in the bush, go down Main Street'

The city plans to spend $400,000 to do emergency repairs to Main Street West during a particularly fearsome pothole season. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

The city will spend as much as $400,000 in emergency money to fix teeth-rattling potholes on Main Street West.

There are potholes all over the city, says Coun. Lloyd Ferguson. And with the repeated freezing and thawing this winter, they're the worst in recent memory.

I've never seen it this bad.- Dan McKinnon, general manager of public works

But the main thoroughfare from Cootes Drive to Longwood Road is "almost running on gravel" and needs emergency repairs, the Ancaster councillor said. So city and councillors are talking behind the scenes about how to fix it as quickly as possible. City council will likely also discuss it on Feb. 28.

"It's like driving off road now when you go down there," Ferguson said Thursday. "I have a big SUV and I was struggling getting down that thing."

"I have a big SUV and I was struggling getting down that thing," says Coun. Lloyd Ferguson. He describes it as "almost running on gravel." (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

"If you want to four wheel, instead of going to the desert or out in the bush, go down Main Street."

Ferguson isn't the only one to notice. At times this month, an HSR drivers even refused to drive the stretch.

It's caused back and shoulder pain, said Eric Tuck, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107. The road is so rough in some spots that "it was throwing them out of the seat."

"Eight to nine hours of going back and forth across those roads is like having a jack hammer in your hands."

Aidan Johnson, councillor for Ward 1 in Hamilton's west end, agrees.

"The road is a mess and it's very dangerous," he said. "That's the urgency. People are swerving to avoid the potholes, and that's dangerous."

"I built roads for 32 years and it’s the worst condition I’ve seen any road" in Hamilton, says Coun. Lloyd Ferguson. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Dan McKinnon, general manager of public works, said potholes happen every winter. Warmer temperatures loosen the asphalt, and then cold temperatures freeze it again.

Winters are getting increasingly warmer, he said. So the potholes are getting worse.

"It's destroying the road surface much faster than what we would have seen 20 years ago," he said.

"Just anecdotally, I've never seen it this bad."

Who pays?

For Main West, councillors are debating whether only Ward 1 residents will pay for the "shave and pave" — a term for when workers displace the fractured road surface and replace it with new, smoother asphalt.

In the short term, the city will likely use money from the Ward 1 road budget, Johnson said. The goal is to get it done now.

But people from all over the city use the stretch, he said, so that should be repaid through money from the general levy.

"There has been an internal conversation about where the money should come from," he said. In the very least, he said, Dundas and Ancaster should chip in.

"It isn't fair for Ward 1 to pay for a road that has been destroyed by the elements and people from all wards."

About the Author

Samantha Craggs


Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at


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