Pothole season comes early and fierce

James
James McLeod
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A car passes one of a growing number of potholes cropping up around the region. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Larry Connoly can confirm what you probably already know: there are a lot of potholes out there.

As a mechanic at Pender Auto Service in St. John’s, Connoly sees the aftermath of the brutal potholes out there.

“We see a lot of broken springs, and rims and tires busted,” he said. “Steel gets brittle in the cold, see? And when you hit a good jolt — and there’s lots of them around to hit, right — that’s what happens.”

Connoly said the springs are the worst of it, and he sees people who have been driving around with broken springs.

“The spring holds the car straight and steady on the road,” he said.

“You can drive around the city at 20 or 30 kilometres per hour for a while … (but) it can be dangerous if you’re going at high speed.”

Transportation and Works Minister Nick McGrath said he gets people coming up to him every day to talk about the state of the roads, and this year, potholes are a serious issue.

The holes form because of freezing and thawing, and this year there has been more of that earlier in the year.

“Everything is early this year,” he said. “A pothole can appear very quickly. Today it might just be a little crack or a soft spot in pavement, but if water gets in underneath it and you get a freeze, tomorrow  that’s going to be a pothole.”

The worst thing about it is that there’s still a lot of winter to come, and even if crews patch up the holes, the moisture will just get in around the patchwork, and re-open the pothole.

McGrath said crews are just doing their best with the hand they’re dealt.

“You’ve got two choices here. You can either patch it until you get into your paving season, or you can leave it, which means it’s going to get bigger,” he said.

“There’s nothing else you can do until you get into a paving season.”

St. John’s Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth said city crews can patch things up fairly quickly, but they need to know about potholes to get to work on them.

“The reality is that we rely on our citizens to notify us of any potholes so we can get to them quickly — at least get signage up, and then to them as fast as our manpower allows,” he said.

“What happens is potholes are out there for two or three days before anybody bothers to call the city.”

Ellsworth said he thinks it’s reasonable to get a pothole fixed within two or three days, as long as the city isn’t in the middle of a snow storm or something else that’s pulling crews away to do other work.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Pender Auto Service

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