Spend any time on Ottawa roads and you’ve probably become pretty good at dodging the pothole.

It’s one of those sure signs that spring is coming. As the weather thaws, maple syrup starts to run and potholes on city streets open up.  As the temperatures go up and down, drivers and cyclists are swerving left and right.

“It’s awful. It’s like skiing downhill slalom style to avoid them,” Ottawa driver Dan Cheesman told CTV News Ottawa on Friday, as he was stuck behind a city of Ottawa crew repairing potholes.


“Potholes are formed when we enter freeze-thaw cycles,” says Bryden Denyes, the city of Ottawa’s area manager – urban roads. “Where we have water infiltrating into the pavement surface; and then, we have warm temperatures in the day, cold temperatures at night - with that freeze-thaw cycle, when traffic - it starts to break asphalt up, and that’s how the potholes form,” he says.

Denyes says Ottawa experiences an average of 79 freeze-thaw cycles over the winter season. That’s a five-year average.


If there’s a pothole that you keep trying to avoid in your neighbourhood, you can report them to the city by calling 3-1-1 or filling out an online form.

Denyes says repairs are done on a priority basis.

“A higher road classification that sees more traffic would get responded to much quicker, say, than a residential street where it doesn’t have that same traffic volume.”

He adds that crews are working 24 hours a day as busier roads can be better repaired when traffic is lighter.

The city filled 10,523 potholes between Jan. 1 and March 7 this year.


Hit a large pothole at full speed and “it can definitely do significant damage to your wheel and tire,” says Nick Direnzo of Dirienzo & Saikaley Automotive Service Specialists.

He says they’ve already seen cars damaged from potholes this year.

“It runs up if you have a good alloy wheel,” he said. “It could be easily from the $500 mark to the $1,000 mark.”