Prince Edward Island road surfaces cracking up earlier than usual

·1 min read
Freeze-thaw cycles over the winter months can cause pavement laid over P.E.I.'s silty soil to break up, as it did here on the Appin Road in Bonshaw.  (Nicole MacEachern - image credit)
Freeze-thaw cycles over the winter months can cause pavement laid over P.E.I.'s silty soil to break up, as it did here on the Appin Road in Bonshaw. (Nicole MacEachern - image credit)

A Prince Edward Island transportation official says the spring breakup of some road surfaces has come a little earlier than usual, but he doesn't think it is worse overall than in previous years.

"We did have some fairly warm temperatures for a week or so, so that's when we started seeing things pop up," said Stephen Szwarc, director of the highway maintenance division for the Prince Edward Island government.

"And then now that things are getting mild again, we're seeing some more pop up."

He noted that some problem areas in Queens County are experiencing significant breakup, and it's possible more issues could crop up over the next couple of weeks.

"We do have crews that are out there that are checking the roads daily, and then we're definitely recording them to see what we can do now and what we're going to do for our summer maintenance program."

Asphalt plants still closed

What they can do at this time of year is limited. The province's asphalt plants usually open in late May, so in the meantime work crews use the techniques of cold mix patching, some limited hot mix patching, or a blend of gravel and reclaimed asphalt to do repairs.

Summer maintenance work will begin once the asphalt plants start operating, after spring weight restrictions are lifted.

Those restrictions were imposed this year on March 18.

"Late winter and early spring driving in our province has its own set of challenges," notes the provincial website. "Previously frozen roads become more vulnerable to damage as they thaw out and soften. Heavy vehicles travelling over paved roads can make it worse by causing the pavement to crack and break up."

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