Weather causes pothole problems
Conditions over the past week have been ideal for the formation of pot holes. Doing their best to stay ahead of the problem one hole at a time Tuesday were Dominic Florio, left, and Randy Baese of the Norfolk roads department in Simcoe. Here, Florio and Baese tackle a problem on Victoria Street in Simcoe. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER
A string of potholes in Delhi that led to deflated tires and road crews working overnight to fill them isn’t necessarily a sign of things to come, says Norfolk’s roads manager.
A dramatic swing in weather meant workers had to rush to repair potentially dangerous potholes in the area of St. James Street and Church Street after midnight on Jan. 12, said Shawn Vanacker.
“Up until that point most of our road bases were all frozen,” Vanacker said Friday. “A few milder temperature days doesn’t affect the frost in the ground too much, but that combined with the rain we received was enough to take some of that frost out of the top surface of the ground and let the road free up a little bit. With the rain and the splashing action from the tires, potholes can progress from very minor to very major very quickly under those circumstances.”
Both police and road crews responded to the Jan. 12 incident.
Temperatures in Norfolk have since stabilized and so too has the number of potholes requiring attention.
“We do end up patching a certain amount of potholes year-round but obviously weather conditions that we experienced, those times are certainly worse,” Vanacker said. “Throughout the winter we would do some patching but those few days did cause some problems for us.”
The extra work completed by crews earlier this month doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be busy during ‘pothole season’, Vanacker points out. The fate of county roads relies mostly on Mother Nature.
“It’s tough to say at this point, it really depends on how the spring comes,” he added. “If we have a full-on Canadian winter that lasts until the spring and then progressively exits out the door the pothole season shouldn’t be too bad. It’s when you get the mixture of cold temperatures and warm temperatures and back to cold, water gets into those pavement cracks and when it freezes again, that’s when you get that popping action.”
Should drivers notice one or a series of potholes causing difficulty on Norfolk roadways, Vanacker urged them to contact the roads department.
“Our staff are frequently doing road patrols, that’s part of the requirements of the province on municipalities,” he said. “We identify the potholes that we can, we also encourage the public if they spot potholes to give our office a call.”
The number to call in Norfolk County to report a pothole on a county road is 519-582-2100.
Norfolk County isn’t the only municipality with pothole headaches. Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett has been fielding a lot of complaints about potholes on Highway 6 between Hagersville and Caledonia.
Monday, Barrett urged regular users of Highway 6 to keep the pressure on the Wynne government now that former Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca is out and former Natural Resources Minister Kathryn McGarry has been appointed as his replacement.
Adding to the alarm is the fact that Carillion UK – the parent company of the contractor responsible for maintaining provincial highways – has encountered serious financial problems. There is concern that maintenance of provincial highways could grind to a halt in the middle of a Canadian winter if the wheels fall off in Great Britain.
“Upon learning of the UK Carillion collapse we immediately called for a government response to the potential impacts in Ontario and continue to urgently demand immediate answers as to what ‘options’ the Minister (Del Duca) is referring to `should the situation change,’” MPP Michael Harris, the Progressive Conservative transportation critic, said in a press release.
Barrett’s office has since reached out to Minister McGarry in search of the Liberals’ back-up plan in case Carillion is no longer able to discharge its responsibilities in Ontario.
— With files from