Nova Scotia

Halifax's pothole repair list jumps by 64% since recent ice storm

More than 200 new potholes have been added to the Halifax Regional Municipality's repair list since the ice storm earlier this month. The fluctuations in temperature is being cited as one reason.

Road conditions from freeze-thaw cycle create busy time for tire shops

Halifax's running pothole repair list jumped to 630 as of Wednesday, up from 384 on Feb. 4, 2022. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

More than 200 new potholes have been added to the Halifax Regional Municipality's repair list since the ice storm earlier this month.

Drivers have been filing daily complaints about potholes on the roads following the storm, which involved a prolonged period of freezing rain starting on Feb. 4 and continuing into the weekend.

The list increased by 246 since that date, with a running total of 630 reported Wednesday. 

"It's really terrible, I hit a hole in Sackville last week and it shook the truck like crazy and it was unbelievable how big the hole was," said Brent Wheeler, a roofer in Dartmouth, N.S.

His vehicle did not suffer any damage, but many other drivers have not been so lucky.

"Normally this time of year we're slow but it seems at least one a day somebody is coming in with a bent rim where they hit a pothole," said Zeth Brooks, the owner operator of Apex Tire Services in Dartmouth.

Zeth Brooks at Apex Tire in Dartmouth, N.S., says potholes appear to be deeper this time of year. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

As many as five vehicles a day have needed some sort of repair from his shop, he said, including several that had to be towed in.

"We're seeing a lot of flat tires, bent rims, damaged tires. It can also damage the front end of the vehicle, you can blow a shock just as easy as you can blow a tire," Brooks explained.

There have been about 500 pothole complaints sent to the municipality since the weekend of the storm, including 171 on Feb. 9, although some of those reports could have been about the same pothole.

There are normally a handful each day.

"I think that could be tied to the fact we've seen a lot of temperature fluctuations this winter," said city spokesperson Brynn Budden. "That can definitely worsen existing potholes on the road."

"If there was an existing pothole, let's say on a day it was warmer outside and that fills with some water and then the temperature goes down, that water freezes and can expand the void that is already there."

City aims to repair priority potholes within 7 business days

It's a difficult time of year for the city's road crews to fix the potholes, given they have often had to switch to snow removal mode.

"They can't repair potholes when there is snow or ice covering the road, so there have been quite a few days this winter when crews haven't been able to repair potholes," Budden said. 

However, the city has a service truck that operates around the clock to respond to potholes that are deeper than eight centimetres or are identified as requiring immediate attention.

The goal for potholes earmarked as priorities to repair on the main arterial roads is to fix them within seven business days.

For others it can be 30 days.

Budden said the city relies heavily on the public to report potholes. This can be done by calling 311 or filling out an online form. She said all potholes that get reported are added to the repair list.

Advice for avoiding potholes

With so many potholes throughout the region at the moment, the best advice Zeth Brooks has to avoid them is to keep a good distance back from the vehicle in front of you to increase your vision of the road.

"The ones that I hit, I might have been a little too close to somebody and I can't see the pothole coming up," he said. "If you go slower through them it will minimize the damage."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gareth Hampshire is an award-winning journalist who began his career with CBC News in 1998. He has worked as a reporter in Edmonton and is now based in Halifax.

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