Conditions just right for potholes, adding to drivers’ woes
Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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Conditions just right for potholes, adding to drivers’ woes

A stretch of Barnswallow Drive near the Church Street turnoff in Elmira is one of the problem areas for potholes in Woolwich. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]

Big temperature swings usher in a freeze-thaw cycle that’s hard on the roads. Add in significant snowfalls that bring out the plows and icing that requires repeated passes by salt trucks and you’ve got a recipe for what’s cooking on several roads in the townships just now: potholes.

A stretch of Barnswallow Drive near the Church Street turnoff in Elmira is one of the problem areas for potholes in Woolwich.[Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
A stretch of Barnswallow Drive near the Church Street turnoff in Elmira is one of the problem areas for potholes in Woolwich. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
“The difficulty this year is that December, even into January, has been quite busy from the plowing perspective. So it’s been hard to allocate resources to deal with this,” said Richard Sigurdson, manager of engineering at the Township of Woolwich.

“It’s definitely been an issue. It always seems we’ve got one of these situations in January and sometimes multiple times in the year. But nevertheless we did have a couple of days when we were able to dedicate some crews to cold-mixing some of these more problematic areas,” he added.

Funds and crews are stretched thin and the holes are being filled in as time and money allow.

Woolwich staff spends about $48,500 on labour, equipment and materials to patch potholes annually. Wellesley Township spends about $20,000 annually on the same, and though Wellesley roads escaped the brunt of the weather’s defacement so far, general manager of community services Kevin Beggs says much of that budget is used up by the end of each year. As of December Wellesley had spent $19,664 on road maintenance in 2013.

Herrgott Road requires the largest number of patch-ups. As well, there are a few minor potholes in the other villages, he added. Herrgott Road is also slated to be resurfaced in the summer, which should cut down significantly on the amount of weather damage in the future.

“We’ve got a few odd [potholes] in the villages but very little. At this time there have been no major issues. I’m very impressed so far this year,” Beggs said.

Travelling through Elmira, be prepared to swerve on Park Avenue, Wyatt and Union streets, Floradale Road and Barnswallow Drive. In Breslau, watch out for rough patches on Menno Street.

It’s not just the weather that’s creating a bumper crop of holes this year, Sigurdson added. Some roadways are just not up to the task of surviving a harsh winter.

“Some of the streets just don’t have an adequate base or pavement structure and the combination of some just being older; they just don’t survive as well when they go through these thaw-freeze events.”

Potholes appear when water freezes in cracks or openings in the asphalt and expands. This creates more pressure on already cracked roads. When a pothole forms – usually as temperatures hover around the freezing point – unless repairs are made, it can grow in size chipped away at by the elements and passing vehicles.

These days, pothole season is emerging at several times in the year and Woolwich staff are out patrolling in search of the most problematic divots to deal with on a priority basis.

“It’s definitely early, but it seems to be a common pattern where we get some of these events in January,” Sigurdson said.

To report problematic potholes in the community call the Woolwich engineering department at 519-669-604. In Wellesley, email the roads department by visiting the website at www.wellesley.ca.

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