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Pesky potholes take toll on city roads

By Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter
Monday, March 10, 2014, 11:57 AM

A rough winter means local roads, driveways and parking lots are riddled with potholes and residents are in for a bumpy ride. Here’s the science behind these nasty craters.

Potholes are caused by rapid change in temperature. They occur when water seeps into cracks in asphalt. When it freezes, the ice expands resulting in dirt and gravel pushing out. Continued traffic in the affected area causes the asphalt to buckle, thus a pothole is born.

“It’s basically the freeze and thaw cycle,” says Astrid Poei, communications coordinator for the Ministry of Transportation for Ontario (MTO).

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Poei says MTO hasn’t seen a significant increase in the number of pothole calls received this winter. She says not much has changed from previous years.

MTO has maintenance contractors whom monitor all major highways. Poei says a pothole is dealt with during daylight hours almost immediately after it has been spotted.

“Its winter, we do live in Canada. Our number one focus is winter maintenance items, i.e. snow removal is taken care of first, and so this takes precedence over potholes. However, our goal is a safe and efficient road network. So anytime a pothole is reported, it brings a concern,” said Poei.

Vic Keshishian, owner of Automotive Repair in Scarborough, says the bigger the pothole, the bigger the price tag.

He has repaired a few vehicles this winter and says, “It’s most certainly pothole season.”

According to Keshishian, if you blow a tire it could average anywhere from $150 to $300. A recent customer brought in their BMW for repair after running over a pothole two and a half feet deep. They ended up with a bill of $1400.

“It obviously depends on the make of the vehicle, but the pothole was so severe that it cracked the rim and blew his tire,” said Keshishian.

Another customer damaged their control arm, ball joint and strut due to a pothole, costing him approximately $700.

Mr. Keshishian says most of his customers’ will take photos of the potholes that cause damage to their vehicles in hopes of contacting the City for some sort of compensation.

“They are rarely successful. I just think, how could you not see it?”

Keshishian says there isn’t much you can do in the event that you spot a pothole on route for the first time, but if you drive the same route every day, memorize where the potholes are located so that you can bypass it the next time around.

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