Modern machine offers quick fix for potholes

The Python 5000 pothole patcher.
The Python 5000 pothole patcher. Superior Roads Solutions

A made-in-Canada solution promises to patch potholes in less than two minutes, doesn’t require long stretches of road closures, and keeps the road crew member in the safety of an air-conditioned cab.

It sounds like a commuter’s dream come true for pothole-repair season.

Marjorie Strandlund of Regina-based Superior Road Solutions joined Jock Wilson on The Morning News on 770 CHQR to explain the Python 5000.

READ MORE: Calgary’s harsh winter to blame for increase in potholes

“This machine does everything that that crew you were talking about does, and it does it with one person. It cleans out the pothole, it sprays it with an adhesive, it fills it with asphalt, and, most important, it compacts it and makes a permanent patch.”

The invention of company founder Les Salisko, the Python 5000 features an arm that extends out of the front to do cleaning, filling, and compacting work.

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LISTEN: Marjorie Strandlund joins Jock Wilson to explain the Python 5000

And it can be used year-round.

“As long as there’s no snow covering the ground, this machine can be out there fixing them,” Strandlund said. “It keeps the asphalt hot by circulating engine exhaust around the hopper.”

Strandlund said this is a modern solution to an outdated process.

“Most cities, like you said, it’s quite an ordeal to fill a pothole, because they’re still using methods that were developed about 60-70 years ago.”

READ MORE: Toronto’s harsh winter means crews working extended hours to fill potholes

In a 2017 interview, City of Calgary road maintenance crew member Sam Secreto described the process the city uses to patch potholes.

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“You’ve got to clean out these holes first. And then I’ve got the hot tar there, so we spread out the tar. It acts like a glue. Once the oil is down, we’ll come behind and spread the asphalt, and flatten it out.”

According to a recent news release, the City of Calgary says it has repaired more than 3,500 of the 5,000 potholes in the city in the past two months. According to Mayor Naheed Nenshi, crews are repairing potholes at a pace of roughly 7,000 per week, and has a $6.2-million budget for minor asphalt and pothole repairs.

WATCH: How to avoid pothole-related damage to your vehicle

How to avoid pothole related damage to your vehicle
How to avoid pothole related damage to your vehicle

About the width of a tractor trailer, the Python 5000 was described by Wilson as “the offspring of a combine and a Zamboni,” evoking a laugh from Strandlund.

“Right now the cab we’re using is the same cab that John Deere uses on their combines, so that’s probably why you think that,” says Strandlund of Wilson’s description. “It’s a nice air-conditioned cab. Your operator sits there and uses a joystick.”

READ MORE: ‘It makes no sense’: Montreal driver fuming over potholes in Lachine

In a promotional video, Superior Road Solutions says training on the machinery takes a few days and claims “if you’ve ever played a video game, you can operate the Python 5000.”

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Strandlund says the machine is in operation in Cranbrook, B.C., Montreal, Que., throughout the United States, South America and Asia.

— With files from Global Calgary.