What is with all the potholes around this province? Why do they keep surfacing? Why does it seem so hard to build a road that actually lasts?
These are all valid and real questions that we ask ourselves while driving down the road between curse words. I mean, not even the batmobile could stand up to the torture test we put some of our cars through on our roads! We have all asked the questions, so let’s unpack what is going on with these roads and get a better understanding on the matter.
First of all, potholes originate from something like what a lot of us suffer from- seasonal affective disorder. Now hear me when I say that mental struggles are definitely no laughing matter- but neither are our roads in the spring! The correlation between the two? Well, during the winter months (season), there is a constant cycle of thawing and freezing going on (affective). We get snow on the highways, the salt trucks melt the snow which turns into water, then the water finds its way into the surface of the pavement through small cracks. The water then freezes beneath the surface of the pavement, causing expansion and more cracks in the surface of the road. Once the spring thaw approaches, the water thaws below the surface, but then all those cracks make it easy for chunks of asphalt to break free from the surface and wallah- a new pothole is born (disorder).
A second major factor in the current state of our roads is all the heavy vehicles going down the road. This specifically applies to municipal roads and secondary highways. You see, when these roads were built (likely some 40 years ago) the traffic was much lighter. Sure, you would get the odd semi truck unit rolling down the road with a heavy load, but chances are good that the average traffic was light vehicles or 3-ton trucks that the farmers typically used. The roads were built to accommodate that level of traffic. The amount of road base that was used was way less, because more simply wasn’t needed at the time. So now, with all the heavy semi trucks on the road, and with equipment getting much larger and heavier, it creates a problem. A good mental image is walking on thin ice. A small person might be able to continue walking on it, but as soon as something heavier comes along, it will make holes!
Finally, building a road that will last is something that our highway builders are committed to. We are building roads that are designed for our heavy traffic, and there has been a lot of innovation with asphalt to make it stand up to our weather patterns, salting and loads. There is more road base going down which creates a much stronger compaction rate which in turn helps the road surface remain strong.
So, as we dart and weave around these rough sections of road this spring, remember to keep a few things in mind:
- Slow down to prevent damage from occurring to your vehicle, and in turn, you’ll avoid unnecessary costs and claims
- Use extreme caution around construction crews, and make sure to follow the signs and speed limits
- Be patient with the process. Road construction takes time, money and proper process to ensure a road will be back to it’s glory days for the long term
Enjoy your travels wherever you may be headed. Buckle up, check your mirrors, and keep that lid on your coffee- its going to be a bumpy ride!