Driving in Winnipeg in the spring is like playing Mario Kart and trying to avoid banana peels.
You’re constantly weaving and dodging, trying to ensure your car doesn’t disappear into a gaping pothole.
There are notorious trouble spots around the city, perhaps the worst of which is Empress Street. It’s in bad enough shape that the city plans to reconstruct the road from Portage Avenue to St. Matthew’s Street next year.
The city has already filled close to 14,000 potholes this year, according to Winnipeg city councillor and resident pothologist Marty Morantz.
But some of those holes were likely the same hole repeated because crews are only applying a temporary fix.
“We’re using a cold mix, it’s specially designed for cold, wet temperatures. Patching in the spring is a challenge because of that freeze-thaw cycle,” explained Ken Allen with the city’s Public Works Department.
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“We do this patching with the understanding that we’re going to be going back, potentially two or three times. The asphalt plants open up in mid-May, and that’s when we go back with hot asphalt and we do a permanent patch.”
The city’s budget for pothole repair is roughly $1.8 million, according to Acting Manager of Street Maintenance Cheryl Anderson.
“It’s just part of the nature of having infrastructure, especially during this season where we have the freeze-thaw cycle,” Anderson said. “As more moisture goes into the pavement, when it freezes, it’s like your ice cube tray. When the cubes freeze, the tray expands, and the same thing happens under the pavement. It breaks the pavement away.”
Conditions this past winter were favourable for the city, with limited snowfall reducing the amount of moisture available to seep into the pavement.
“It’s fairly dry, and I think in terms of service requests to 311, the numbers are down this year,” Allen said. “So far, Mother Nature has been somewhat cooperative this year.”
But is it possible to fill every single pothole?
“Eventually, we want them all filled. This time of year, it is pretty hard to keep up,” Anderson admitted.
Potholes on major routes will be fixed first before the city gets to work on 311 requests from residents.