New Brunswick

Potholes 'worse than normal' this year, road managers say

Frequent freeze-thaw cycles this winter have created perfect conditions for lots of potholes in New Brunswick roads

There's no permanent fix for potholes during the winter, says Fredericton roadway manager

There's no permanent fix for a pothole during the winter. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

Warmer temperatures and sunny days are welcome signs spring is on the way, but there's one springtime indicator New Brunswickers aren't as happy to see: potholes.

MRDC, the company that maintains the Trans-Canada Highway from Fredericton to Moncton is in its second week of sending crews out to poke holes in snowbanks to keep water away.

Al Giberson, manager of MRDC, said the number of freeze-thaw cycles that have happened over the last eight weeks create the perfect conditions for potholes to pop up.

When the ground thaws, moisture and water seep into the roadway, then freeze again, compromising the soil underneath the pavement.

"It looks like it's a little worse than normal," Giberson said.

Poking holes in the sides of snowbanks allows water to drain off the road surface. Giberson said it helps but can't totally eradicate potholes.

"It's winter in New Brunswick so you will end up with water and ice everywhere and you do your best to control that ice and water and mitigate any damages that could result from it."

Mike Walker, roadway operations manager for Fredericton, said the city is "seeing significant amounts of potholes this year," which he attributes to the frequent freeze-thaw cycles over the winter.

"We are seeing potholes in a lots of areas that we wouldn't normally, and basically seeing roads break up," Walker said.

Mike Walker, manager of Roadway operations for the City of Fredericton, said potholes this year are turning up in places where they normally aren't expected. (CBC)

Unfortunately Walker said there is no permanent wintertime fix for pesky potholes. Holes can be filled with cold patch asphalt, but those can last anywhere from a day to the rest of the winter depending on weather and road conditions.

He said teams are monitoring, patching and repatching holes in the city as necessary, and marking particularly bad or persistent ones with signs for motorists.

Walker said management works to triage potholes with other-end-of-winter road woes, such as slippery sidewalks and frozen storm drains.

Some streets in the city are in the stage of their life where they will need to be rebuilt, but the summer construction projects will need to be balanced with the city budget.

"There's only so many streets that we can work on in the city, and there's a lot of work to be done."

Walker said city teams are still out widening streets and scraping ice off the roads.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton