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Smooth road ahead: Mild winter means fewer potholes on Ottawa roads

Many motorists have noticed fewer potholes on city streets. A late-starting and mild winter has meant a decrease in freeze-thaw cycles which tend to damage roads. Ottawa, Ont. Feb. 28, 2024. (Tyler Fleming / CTV News). Many motorists have noticed fewer potholes on city streets. A late-starting and mild winter has meant a decrease in freeze-thaw cycles which tend to damage roads. Ottawa, Ont. Feb. 28, 2024. (Tyler Fleming / CTV News).
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City roads have fewer potholes this winter season, thanks to warmer than usual weather conditions.

Typically, an average winter will have multiple freeze-thaw cycles. When this occurs, water seeps into and under the roadway and, as temperatures fluctuate, the water freezes and expands, creating pressure on the pavement and causing cracks to form. Over time, these cracks develop into potholes, presenting hazards for drivers and pedestrians alike.

But this winter has been anything but normal. More above-zero temperatures means potholes are not forming on many city streets as rapidly as they had in previous years.

"There is still a few potholes along Grenfell Crescent here that have just opened up in the last few weeks, but it's not anywhere like it was a year ago," says George Marshall, who also notes, the paved cycling paths along Woodroffe Avenue remain in good condition. "This year I have been able to cycle all winter."

Bryden Denyes, area roads manager with the City of Ottawa, says maintenance crews remain vigilant to patch-up any road imperfection, and in 2024, have so far have filled around 27,000 potholes.

According to city data, the average number of potholes filled annually over the past three years is about 214,000. However, on a month-to-month basis, there has been an approximately 25 per cent decrease.

"Before the winter season started, we did put a high priority on trying to make some permanent repairs on potholes so we would have a better condition of our roads going through the winter," says Denyes. "Fewer snowfall events also allowed us to stay on the roads fixing those potholes a bit more efficiently so we have a better condition through the winter."

While Thursday set a new record temperature for the warmest Feb day ever in Ottawa, winter is not over yet. A flash freeze is coming and could contribute to a few asphalt irregularities.

Potholes can be reported to the city by calling 3-1-1, or online.

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