Trouble with potholes
A combination of warmer sunny days and bitterly cold ones is creating problems for those tasked with looking after municipal roads. According to Bay Roberts’ director of public works, the pothole season was not looking so bad at one point in 2015, but that has since changed.
The fluctuation in temperatures and weather patterns over the last couple of weeks has meant bad things for many stretches of pavement in the region.
As all motorists will attest to, the spring is otherwise known as pothole season. Drivers spend their time manoeuvering vehicles around and sometimes through holes of all sizes. The end result often involves dented tire rims and hefty repair bills.
At first, town officials thought this season would not be as bad as years past, but those inklings changed in March.
“We were having a good year until about a month ago,” said Bay Roberts Director of Public Works Sean Elms.
Weather patterns have varied immensely since then — the sun might shine brightly one day, only to be replaced by a downfall of snow.
That’s when water from melting snow fills any tiny cracks in the pavement. This water freezes in these cracks at night and chips away at the asphalt, until it reaches a point where a car driving over a certain patch will collapse the pavement, creating the pothole.
The frustrating part for Elms and his crew is the fact potholes in his community are showing up along stretches of pavement laid just last year. To combat this problem, Bay Roberts is employing a new product called aquaphalt.
The companies’ website bills it as an “environmentally friendly, permanent cold patch that provides permanent asphalt, driveway, utility cut and manhole repair.”
In the past, Bay Roberts has used class A fill until the asphalt plants open.
“When you have new asphalt, you hope it lasts eight to ten years,” said Elms. “The new product has been working really well.”
While Bay Roberts has been filling in its potholes, down the road in neighbouring Carbonear, officials are taking a different approach.
They have been filling in potholes, but they’ve also been stripping pavement around a particularly hazardous area before putting down a fresh patch. Harbour Grace is looking to get their asphalt recycler on the streets as early as this week.
Robert Bartlett, co-owner of Bartlett’s Irving in Bay Roberts, believes this year has not been as bad as last year for busted rims and damaged tire walls.
“Last year, we had a phenomenal amount of people coming in with rims destroyed and control arms destroyed,” he said. “So far, we’ve had a few but not a huge, huge amount.”
When a pothole season is really bad, service stations experience an uptick in customers, which isn’t always easy to manage with other jobs waiting to be completed. It ties up personnel and can lead to some lessthan-satisfied customers.
“It’s bad enough with the dayto-day things you have to be preparing on your vehicle, let alone something that flew out of nowhere at you,” said Bartlett.
Fixing the problem
Potholes remain a problem for towns across the province. Despite numerous attempts and methods, officials can’t truly seem to get on the other side of the issue.
The industry has tried various types of patches, but they only seem to work for a short period. As it stands, there is not a solid answer to preventing potholes for municipalities to employ.
“We haven’t found the answer yet,” said Elms. “Hopefully, we can catch the potholes early and fix them.”
Town of Carbonear workers address some of the potholes along Beach Road by stripping the pavement that surrounds them and patching the holes over.