By John Swartz
Does it seem like there are more potholes this year? According to Orillia’s superintendent of roads and fleet, there are.
“It’s probably worse this year than it has been the past few years, just for the amount of snow that’s been kicking around. Last year this time we had no snow, other than April 17th we had that snow storm, which was gone in a couple days,” said Peter Ercolini.
“I don’t have an exact percentage,” of how much worse Ercolini said. ”As long as these snow banks are still running off and there’s three and a half, four feet of frost in the ground , that’s got to come out,” before new ones stop popping up.
You remember all that wonderful weather in December through to the last days of January with no snow fall to speak of? You might also remember we then got the amount we’re used to in about ten days time, and then more, and then more.
There was so much accumulation of snow in such a short amount of time crews are still dealing with removing snow banks. There is a not so obvious problem with so much snow, it covers the storm water drains. Until recently, there has been nowhere for the water to go, except to sink into the ground through the asphalt.
Of course it’s still freezing at night. Ice expands, then it melts again the next day, but the asphalt has been pushed aside and up, the cracks become larger, and here you come driving over it and breaking the asphalt up and the next car gets a jolt
With the cold/warm cycle each day people are finding the potholes of yesterday are bigger today, or there’s a new one they weren’t acquainted with. On rainy days, some of those puddles are hiding a surprise. Orillia’s road crews are very busy trying to keep up with filling them in this year.
“Absolutely. With this weather, the rain and the snow banks still melting it’s hindering the process of trying to stay on top of them for sure,” said Ercolini.
“We’ve had two crews out,” each day the last couple weeks, Ercolini said. There’s another crew driving over the most frequently used roads each day just looking for the particularly bad spots in order a schedule can be set the next day for the road repair crews.
“Today we have four crews out. We have our shift guys on the weekend providing service,” Ercolini said.
Surprisingly there haven’t been many complaints about potholes compared to other years.
“On complaints, I don’t think it really escalated that much. The guys have had a lot of feedback from the public thanking them on how quick we’ve been getting around,” Ercolini said.
How long is this going to last before the crews get every last one of the potholes filled? It’s hard to say. One of the other negative effects of not having snow in December and January is it was still freezing. That allowed frost to penetrate even deeper into the ground, so there’s still a lot of trapped water under the surface. Until the freezing weather is no more, there are going to be new potholes form.
“It’s inevitable they are popping up as quick as we fix them,” said Ercolini.
Potholes are not necessarily a function of poor road conditions, lack of maintenance, or being ready for reconstruction like Front Street is. There’s so much snow still around and frost in the ground even some of the newer roads are becoming pock marked.
The majority of pot holes are definitely on the roads you drive every day, but some of the less travelled streets are being affected with potholes where no one can remember there ever being a problem. The road crews can’t see every single street every day and Ercolini said people can report pothole locations either online, or by calling 705-326-4585.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)