City playing catch-up as potholes multiply

City playing catch-up as potholes multiply

This winter's wild weather is slowing the efforts of city crews to fill all those potholes riddling Ottawa's roads.

So far, city workers have filled nearly 60,000 craters, a far cry from the more than 72,000 they'd patched up by this time last year.

Trying to fill potholes filled by snow or by freezing rain is just not really conducive to appropriately patching a hole. - Luc Gagné, City of Ottawa

It's not that there are fewer potholes, as most motorists can attest: It's because the unusual amount of snow, thick ice and freeze-thaw cycles have made the job especially difficult this spring, according to Luc Gagné, the city's manager of roads services.

"Trying to fill potholes filled by snow or by freezing rain is just not really conducive to appropriately patching a hole," Gagné said.

Gagné said city crews have been busy clearing snow and ice, and many of the same crews that would normally be filling potholes are still out spreading salt and clearing catch basins.

Now that the snow and ice is beginning to recede, Gagné said his department is finally turning its attention to filling potholes.

"We're a little bit below where we normally are, but we're playing catch-up in a hurry," he said.

Gagné said half-a-dozen teams of contractors are joining nearly 30 city crews to get the job done.

Gatineau recruiting extra help

Across the Ottawa River, the City of Gatineau is also dealing with a troublesome number of potholes. 

City workers there have filled in 2,800 holes this year, up by nearly 1,000 from this time last year. The number of calls to the city from residents complaining about potholes has nearly doubled, the city said, from 1809 calls between Jan. 1 and March 18, 2018, to 3,438 within the same period this year.

For the first time, Gatineau is also bringing in outside contractors to help fill the holes, according to the city's executive committee president, Cédric Tessier.

"The decision was taken to use these exceptional measures," Tessier said in French. "We cannot prevent potholes when the street is old."