Anatomy of a pot­hole

The Pilot - - Editorial -

Dear Edi­tor, In the March 25th edi­tion of The Tele­gram, the City of St. John’s ex­plains in its “The City Minute” the anatomy of pot­holes: how and why pot­holes de­velop. While the tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tion is quite cor­rect, it cer­tainly does not ad­dress the root cause as to why the streets of St. John’s are full of pot­holes. St. John’s is not the only north­ern city in the world that has se­vere win­ter con­di­tions. I live in north­west­ern Nor­way (and work in St. John’s) in a cli­mate just as harsh, or maybe even harsher than in New­found­land, and very rarely do we see pot­holes in our streets. It is dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand if the root cause has been ad­dressed, and if so, why the prob­lem has not been re­solved, es­pe­cially when constructing new roads. While the thick­ness of the as­phalt layer is very im­por­tant, the main con­tribut­ing fac­tor to pot­holes is pri­mar­ily the lack of qual­ity foun­da­tional work. If the layer of coarse gravel (the roadbed) upon which the as­phalt is laid is too thin and of poor qual­ity, it will not al­low for proper drainage of the wa­ter seep­ing through the small cracks in the as­phalt. Hence, the wa­ter will freeze and the as­phalt will crack. This les­son has been learned over the years by many north­ern cities strug­gling with ad­verse win­ter con­di­tions. In my home­town of Ber­gen, Nor­way, and in other cities along the western se­aboard of Nor­way, you might find a pot­hole or two, maybe even three dur­ing the win­ter/ spring sea­son. How­ever, it never looks any­thing like the “war zone” we see in the streets of St. John’s. I would sug­gest in­sti­gat­ing a pro­gram to ad­dress the root cause in­stead of just ap­ply­ing tem­po­rary fixes ev­ery spring. That would be a good news story in next year’s “The City Minute.”

Trond Bendik­sen, Sande, Nor­way

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