New Brunswick

Too much ice: Fredericton city crews battle frozen sidewalks, potholes

Not even halfway through one of the iciest winters in memory, Fredericton city councillors say they've received a lot of complaints about the state of roads and sidewalks.

City crews have already used 560 tonnes of sand this winter, more than in the past three winters combined

Street Skating in Fredericton's Lincoln Heights

5 years ago
Ice built up on streets in the New Brunswick capital is thick enough to skate on. 0:18

There's more ice on roads and sidewalks in Fredericton than in previous years and city crews have their work cut out for them.

Dylan Gamble, director of engineering and operations, told city council on Monday that crews already put more than 560 tonnes of sand on the sidewalks this winter.

That's more than in the past three winters combined, he said.

"As soon as everything melts, the sand penetrates down the ice and then when it freezes again we're starting right back at square one, like an ice rink," Gamble said.

"We've had some big winters since I've been here but not like this."

As a result, sweeping the streets will likely take six weeks this year instead of the usual three, he added.

"In my time in the city we haven't had to get out and cut ice," he said. "We've been out constantly this year trying to cut it down."

Residents complain about potholes

Councillors said they've received a lot of complaints about the state of the roads and sidewalks this winter, especially about potholes.

"We're hearing that it's icy and there are ice potholes but it's the nature of the beast," said Coun. Henri Mallet, chair of the city's transportation committee.

He added that city crews are working hard on fixing the roads affected but "it's a long process."

Fredericton councillors say potholes have led the list of complaints they've received about roads and sidewalks this winter. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

Gamble said potholes appear when temperatures fluctuate a lot between below and above zero Celsius.

In the winter, city crews can patch the holes with emulsified asphalt but the substance never completely hardens and is only a temporary fix, he said.

"As soon as water gets into the hole, even if we fill the hole, as soon as it freezes it expands and pops it back out again," he said.

"A lot of times we have to go back to potholes several times throughout the winter."

He advised residents to be cautious until the ice thaws. In the spring, the potholes will get fixed, he said.

"We fix them in the spring and then you don't have to deal with them in the summer, but we are back doing it again next winter," he said.