Death to a thousand ruts

Daniel MacEachern
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Province announces rut repair program for Avalon roads

Traffic takes the exit from Ruth Ave., Mount Pearl, towards the Trans-Canada Highway. Rutting has been a problem for drivers who must use this route on a regular basis. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

They bedevil drivers on the Avalon Peninsula: ruts in the roads. They are nuisances at best and hazards at worst, especially when wet.

In some places, the holes are dotted across the highways. In others, worn out patches of varying width are clustered like chains of islands, archipelagos of absent asphalt. In some spots — such as the eastbound lane of Route 2 from Conception Bay South — the ruts are like reverse railroad tracks, parallel grooves carved into the pavement, running 100 metres at a stretch.

Those companies that rely on safe travel for their livelihoods — delivery companies, trucking companies, taxi services — are pleased with the provincial government’s announcement Wednesday of rut repair for some of the Avalon’s highest-traffic, and therefore hardest-hit, roads.

Tom Hedderson, minister of transportation and works, announced the tender Wednesday for the repaving of about 8.7 lane-kilometres of the Outer Ring Road from Torbay Road to Kenmount Road, about 10 lane-kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway between the Route 2 interchange and Foxtrap, and about 6.8 lane-kilometres of Route 2 from Kilbride to Fowlers Road. A lane-kilometre is one kilometre’s worth of pavement in one lane. If one kilometre of a two-lane highway is repaved, for example, that would total two lane-kilometres.

Doug McCarthy, general manager of taxi and delivery company Co-Op Taxi, welcomed the repaving announcement, calling the those areas worn out, in particular the Outer Ring Road.

“They’ve been shaved and repaired, shaved and repaired that many times that they have to be redone,” he said.

He chalked it up to the sheer volume of traffic.

“You park your car in the driveway, same spot every day? You’re going to get ruts in your driveway. Same thing with the highway,” he said.

Glen Dowden, freight dispatcher for East Can Transport on Logy Bay Road, said the company’s drivers share information with each other about the state of repair of different stretches of road.

“The patchwork doesn’t seem to work at all. I don’t know why,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have some good company drivers, and they treat our trucks just like our own. When they’re in the garage, they’re not making money, so they’re very conscious of the road conditions.”

He said he’s happy to hear about the repaving, which is scheduled to be finished by the end of autumn.

“They definitely need to have a lot of work done,” he said. “I have to go in and out to Donovans a few times, and the bridges, the overpasses and bridges where they join, are in pretty rough shape. Obviously they all need to be repaired, but I don’t know if there’s a permanent solution because they all wear out again after a while. The ruts in the road are the biggest problem. I don’t know what grade or what they base their thickness of pavement on, but it’s pretty dangerous out there when it’s raining. When it’s raining out there, you know something’s going to happen.”

McCarthy said as bad as the highways are, it’s worse within St. John’s.

“The city streets are terrible,” he said, adding that the city’s repair crews take too long between scraping up the old pavement and replacing it. “They leave it for like a week or 10 days or 12 days before they come back and repave it. That creates havoc on the front end of your car like you wouldn’t believe.”

Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway, Co-Op Taxi

Geographic location: Torbay Road, Kenmount Road, Foxtrap Fowlers Road Outer Ring Road Logy Bay Road Donovans

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Recent comments

  • trent
    July 06, 2012 - 05:37

    hey want about pitts memorial dive it has ruts to and is used everday. yet no money for that.

  • dman
    July 06, 2012 - 03:36

    ..those aren't ruts ..they are speed bumps to make you insane drivers slow the heck down ....where do you think you are ? ...on the autobahn or something ?

  • Pot-C
    July 05, 2012 - 19:45

    The provincial government has jurisdiction over the specifications for the "liquid" used to blend asphalt. Municipalities. including St. John's have to follow the Provincial specs. The liquid asphalt, used since 2003, is over - refined by the suppliers (ie. oil companies). They are refining the good "crap" out of it to make other petroleum products = more $$$. Has anyone noticed that you get a lot less "tar" on your vehicle nowadays? Also, what does get on your vehicle is a lot easier to remove. I remember soaking a rag with gas and scrubbing tar off my car years ago. I can tell you this that the City of St. John's does monitor all aspects of asphalt used within the City, including the compaction of asphaltic cement (I'm sorry Earl but pavement doesn't "set", its compacted to 97% density as per the specified Marshall value). Until the Province improves the liquid asphalt specifications, the contractors & municipalities have no alternative.

  • BORKCat
    July 05, 2012 - 15:04

    Roads are affected by a series of factors - most of which have been mentioned in other posts. But, ultimately, construction quality is paramount. I live in the US and have driven on highways many times in and around Chicago that hold up just fine. They use different materials than you see in NL...I'm guessing it's a classic tale of short-term thinking (save a dollar now, meet the immediate needs and not accurately calculating volumes, etc.), which is short term thinking, is resulting in this more long-term problem, again.

  • Economically Exciled
    July 05, 2012 - 13:13

    Funny...I've driven I-95, I-20 and I-10, from Newfoundland to Texas and back, some of the heaviest truck traffic and commuter traffic in the U.S.... No ruts...but they did the road beds based on potential need for use by the military and did them right the first time! Where could this money have been better utilized and why are the contractors not accountable???

  • David Wilson
    July 05, 2012 - 11:07

    Cabbies operate on the basis of drive’er like you stole’er, they don’t slow down for the potholes. No wonder Mr. McCarthy is complaining, his cabs are taking a beating because their drivers drive the guts out of them. Most cabbies don’t own the cars they drive, hence they don’t give a rats-behind the damage they do when they hit potholes. As for the timeframes that the City contractor is supposed to repave milled areas, it is 1 day for arterial streets, 3 days for collector streets and 5 days for residential. For the most part these deadlines are being met. This was a problem in the past but it has improved greatly since the City imposed these timeframes.

  • Earl
    July 05, 2012 - 10:31

    I blame the ruts on substandard work. Foundation isn't compacted enough, and pavement it laid too thin and now allowed to properly set. The metro area is expanding, as is the population and number of vehicles on our roads. It's time the Province, City, and contracting companies alike realize this and start building roads that can withstand the traffic.

  • Paul
    July 05, 2012 - 09:39

    If the fanbelt on your car had studs do you think the pulley would not be affected differently. Same principal applies with studded tires .

  • MBC
    July 05, 2012 - 09:05


    • economically exciled
      July 05, 2012 - 13:14

      or spell it.

  • calvin
    July 05, 2012 - 08:26

    Why do people who don't have a clue about what causes ruts in the roads point fingers at such things as studded tires? The only plausable reason I have read about why the ruts are occurring was written by an experienced retired road construction worker that the foundation for the pavement nowadays is substandard. That makes more sense to me than any other arguement put forward so far.

  • harold from outta town
    July 05, 2012 - 07:59

    Turry from town.. you have the typical townie attitude. the ruts in the road are the result of outta towners travelling on "your" road and not paying taxes. well Turry, im from outta town but i travel to town on many occasions and I always leave a couple of 100 $$ in some business inside the overpass. If it bothers you so much to have outta towners on "your" streets then don't bitch so much when a company wants to start up outside the overpass, move some government offices outta town and into other towns, then the outta towners wouldn't have to travel on "your" roads to work and do their business. and by the way, Turry, feel free to travel on any road outside the overpass. we welcome all visitors and look forward to meeting you some day..

  • PaulSt.John's
    July 05, 2012 - 07:55

    It's the studs on the tires. Some are still going around with studs on their tires in July. Studded tires are unnecessary and no safer than decent snow tires. They should be allowed on emergency vehicles only.

    • townie
      July 05, 2012 - 08:30

      You can't blame studded tires for all this. NL is not the only place that allows them, they are used all over Canada and the US and the roads there do not look nearly as bad as they do here. perhaps the asphalt is like the paint they use on the roads that wears off after a couple of months - it's garbage!

    • Dufus
      July 05, 2012 - 09:05

      Seriously? Studs on the tires? No Paul that is wrong! If that were the case the problem would be everywhere not just in very specific places. Also would be nice if better quality paint were used or reflectors embedded in the pavement (like in England) so one can still see the road in the night time when it is wet or foggy!

    • No Mystery
      July 05, 2012 - 10:34

      The problem is everywhere, across Canada and the northern US states. There are vehicles outside St. John's and studs have been proven to wear down roads.

    • Robert
      July 05, 2012 - 10:46

      Umm, better check your studies boys, most of the ruts are due to pavement being worn away by studs. The most damaged sections are where an incline exists and the studs dig in under increased load. If it were due to weight or a poor foundation the asphalt wouldn't be chewed away, it would just be compressed and spread to the sides, causing ridged ruts. Google it for yourself, we're not the only ones that have experienced this problem. Studs perform well on ice and hard pack, but far worse on bare pavement. Time to ban the studs, modern winter tires are just as good or better under all conditions except for glare ice, and cause no road damage.

    • Seeing through the b.s.
      July 05, 2012 - 14:02

      Glad you came out ok after your near miss. A loud horn would have been just as effective, that's what us 'cagers' use. You don't need loud pipes, you enjoy them. The rest of us don't. Get it?

  • Inspector
    July 05, 2012 - 07:44

    Maybe taxi drivers should slow the f--- down... Just a thought. And maybe people shouldn't complain about the repairs that are being done. At least something is being done.

  • Turry from town
    July 05, 2012 - 06:51

    Sure the city streets are terrible.What do you expext?The ringroad is wore out from traffic coming in and going out of St.John's,by thousads of people driving their vehilces for work and not paying any taxes for infastructure upkeep.If this traffic is wearing out the ringroad,what is it doing to city streets?

    • Bill
      July 05, 2012 - 07:49

      St.John's is expanding too fast,therefore not enough taxes for infrastructure. Mount Pearl has basically stopped growing and can afford to have paved roads and modern garbage removal.No wonder they don't want amalgamation.

    • PETER
      July 05, 2012 - 21:23

      Sorry Turry, but you are wrong. The ring road is a provincial road, not a city road, and is looked after by the province, paid for out of all our taxes. Get your facts correct!!!