If commutes seem smoother this spring, it could be because road crews are ahead of schedule filling potholes this year.
Nearly 1,000 have already been filled since warmer weather arrived in Calgary, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday.
And thanks to factors that include fewer drivers on the roads and a milder winter, there have not been as many potholes to contend with in 2021, Nenshi said.
“This year … our crews are ahead of their pace,” Nenshi said at a virtual news conference Tuesday.
“We have way fewer reports of potholes on our 311 app.”
‘That’s when the pothole forms’
Last winter, city recorded 1,442 requests for pothole or roadway maintenance through its 311 service from December 2019 to February 2020.
The bulk of the requests — 781, excluding duplicates — came in February.
The city said this was due to the hot-and-cold weather during that month; frequent freeze-thaw cycles wreaked havoc on the roads.
“Potholes form when moisture penetrates the top layer of asphalt and then it pools and an ice pocket is formed,” Chris McGeachy, spokesperson for the roads department, told CBC News at the time.
“When that ice pocket melts, when the road temperature starts to rise, and cars drive over that void — that’s when the pothole forms.”
Milder weather, fewer motorists
But the winter months of 2020-21 were different, Nenshi said. A lack of snow allowed crews to start filling potholes earlier, and the absence of extreme temperatures helped prevent potholes in the first place.
“It was a bit milder than normal. We didn’t get the number of freeze-thaw cycles that we normally get, which means, as it stands, there are way fewer potholes.” Nenshi said.
“The other reason, of course, is that the wear-and-tear on our roads has been less this year, as people are staying home because of the pandemic.”
Report residential potholes, mayor says
The city has budgeted $6.2 million this year for minor asphalt repairs, which includes potholes.
And in spite of their diminished numbers, Nenshi urged Calgarians to report potholes when they do come across them — particularly on residential roads.
“For our smaller roads … we really do rely on citizens to let us know where those potholes are,” Nenshi said.
He also reminded drivers that construction season is gearing up, so driving carefully is important.
“As always, take it slow, show respect for those road construction crews … and be patient.”
To report a pothole, dial 311, download the 311 app or go to calgary.ca/potholes.