Through practice and patience, Amanda Bladon has learned how to navigate the intersection of 105 Street and 85 Avenue.
The road is peppered with potholes, but she’d describe it this way:
“An obstacle course. I feel like sometimes I’m on American Ninja Warrior.”
Bladon’s strategy for avoiding the rim-rocking holes is to slow down and snake her way down the street.
“It’s dodgy for sure,” said Bladon after another successful pass.
The next car down the road has Janine Voltner at the wheel. She takes Bladon’s strategy to an even further extreme, essentially crawling across the hazards.
“As long as it’s clear, I’m taking the other guy’s lane,” said Voltner. “Edmonton is the worst city I’ve driven in for potholes.”
Voltner is from Wetaskiwin and on this day she escaped the city without harm, but on her last visit the road near a back alley gobbled her up.
“I heard the terrible noise and went, ‘Oh no, I’m getting my car out of here’ and it was too late,” said Voltner.
She hasn’t had the heart to get that noise checked by a mechanic.
“Something is wrecked under there,” she said.
According to the city, about 18,000 potholes have been filled since Jan. 1. That sounds like a lot and it is, but consider that officials expect around 500,000 to be filled by the end of the year and there seems to be a lot of work yet to do.
Fortunately, help has arrived. On Thursday, the city unveiled one of its new custom-built pothole filling mega trucks.
“Basically, this is the safest pothole truck in North America,” said Scott Van Dusen, Edmonton’s acting roadway maintenance supervisor.
The truck is equipped with 270-degree cameras so the driver can see the other members of the crew at all times. It has a custom floodlight so workers can work through the night with minimal disturbance to other drivers.
The truck is also more efficient. It heats asphalt faster and carries about 20 per cent more than other trucks the city uses. Less trips back to the yard to refill means more time filling holes.
At a cost of $400,000 each, five new trucks will be added to the fleet. The first will be in service in a few weeks, the rest will be on the road by the end of April.
But the city still needs your help finding all the potholes by calling 311, using the 311 app or reporting a hole on the city’s website.
“The more the merrier,” said Eduardo Sosa, director of infrastructure maintenance. “We have almost 1 million residents in the city, if we can have them contributing and letting us know where are those potholes, we will get to them faster.”
The bigger the hole and the busier the road, the faster the fix. The city is not just looking out for motorists either.
“If you have a pothole on a crosswalk that could create a trip hazard for pedestrians, so it’s all about safety and keeping our roads in a safe state,” said Sosa.
With the new trucks a few weeks away and more problems popping up every day, take some advice from someone who has become a bit of an expert in her own neighbourhood.
“Go slow, it’s nice out and you want to crank your music and go fast, but just go slow,” Bladon said.