Trou­ble with pot­holes

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

Ser­vic­ing ve­hi­cles

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.”

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COMPASS

Town of Car­bon­ear work­ers ad­dress some of the pot­holes along Beach Road by strip­ping the pave­ment that sur­rounds them and patch­ing the holes over.

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