Although city crews regularly patrol streets to identify pot holes and other road deficiencies, pot holes can develop on a daily basis when temperatures begin to hover around zero degrees.
With the shift from winter snow plowing to snow melting conditions are perfect for potholes to form in the spring. The Roads Division takes a number of steps to ensure quick efficient repair of potholes.
Why Do Potholes Form?
Moisture seeps into the pavement and sub-base, freezes, expands, and then thaws.
The freeze – thaw cycle weakens the pavement.
Traffic loosens the pavement even more.
Pavement crumbles and pops out.
Why do so many potholes occur in the springtime?
Spring temperatures warm the cold pavement during the day. Snow melts and resulting water flows into the pavement and freezes during the cold night. Freeze/thaw cycle continues throughout the spring. Freezing and thawing each day creates voids under the pavement. This eventually causes the pavement to break up. A winter of heavy snow or rain and many freeze/thaw cycles can create conditions leading to a significant pothole season ahead.
Potholes are created when water penetrates the top layer of asphalt through cracks in the road. After the moisture freezes and expands, sections of the pavement are forced up. The weight of vehicles going over this section of road breaks the pavement and the asphalt is forced out. Potholes are more frequent in the spring, after the freeze/thaw action following winter.
If moisture gets into cracks in the pavement, and then freezes and expands, the pressure that is created causes the asphalt to break away, resulting in a pothole. Vehicles driving over a pothole can cause the edges to crumble, which increases the size of the pothole.
With extreme temperature swings of very cold to rainy days, combined with deep frost and heaving soils, the spring pothole season will be worst.
Who can I call to Report a Pothole?
Maintenance crews are constantly on the lookout for potholes, but the City welcomes citizen calls to report a pothole they have noticed. If the pothole is on a city street, leave a message for the POTHOLE HOTLINE at 467-2334.
When you call please leave specific details of the location of the pothole including:
Exact location of pothole (street name, house # or landmark it is located in front of)
Driving lane or shoulder
Approximate size of pothole
Date you call
How long will it take to fix the Pothole?
It depends on where the pothole is located. If it is located on a main roadway, it will be repaired quicker than potholes on a residential street.
Pothole hazards are rated on the following criteria: location (driving lane, curb lane); class of street; and how hazardous the pothole is for drivers. Locations are itemized for repair crew’s area to repair the potholes in an orderly manner.
How are Potholes Repaired?
In cold weather repairs are made using a cold patch asphalt. One of the characteristics of the cold patch is its ability to wick any water out of a pothole.
In warmer weather hot asphalt is used to seal up potholes and cracks in the road pavement. This preventative maintenance helps to stop potholes from forming in the spring.
Why do some roads have more Potholes than others?
High-traffic roads have more potholes than other roads due to the weight and volume of traffic on the roadway.
What are "utility cuts"?
Utility cuts occur when an underground repair requires crews to dig up the roadway. Once the repair is completed, the hole is backfilled with gravel until it can be paved. Crews will continue to maintain the gravel surface as required.
Why doesn’t the City fix potholes and utility cuts in the winter?
The City does repair potholes and utility cuts in the winter, however, during the winter, the fixes can only be temporary. This is because the best way to repair holes or utility cuts is by using a hot-mix asphalt, which can only be produced in warmer temperatures. In the winter, potholes and utility cuts are maintained with gravel and recycled asphalt. This temporary mix may shift or settle during a freeze/thaw cycle. The utility cut cannot be properly fixed until the frost is largely out of the ground, and hot-mix asphalt can be used.
Will the fixes be permanent or will the potholes come back?
For pothole and utility cut repairs to be effective, daytime temperatures must be above 5 degrees Celsius range or warmer. When temperatures fall at night, hot-mix asphalt can neither be produced nor placed effectively. Repairs are most effective when patches are done in dry & warm conditions.
The reality is that changing temperatures and ground conditions can result in potholes forming within hours or occurring next to areas previously repaired. This is not uncommon in our climate. Crews will be re-visiting sites where potholes re-emerge.
Can Potholes be prevented?
NO, but roadways are being built to reduce their moisture capacity. Researchers and suppliers of asphalt cement are developing a better, more durable asphalt mix to reduce pothole formation. Cold patch asphalt is also being improved to last longer in potholes.
What can drivers do to prevent damage to their vehicles from potholes?
Use extreme caution when going through large puddles of water! Typically under that water are potholes and going through this water at excess speed may result in damage to your vehicle
My vehicle was damaged in a pothole. What should I do?
Have a licensed automobile mechanic inspect the damage. Do not continue to drive your vehicle if it is not operating properly. Notify the City Loss Prevention Officer at 467-2145 of the exact location of the accident so any needed repair work can be done. If you believe the damage will exceed your deductible contact your insurance agent for assistance.
How to file a claim
You are required to submit a claim letter or e-mail to the City Clerk for property damage or injury. You must submit your claim within 10 days of your incident.
The claim letter should include the following:
Your name, home address, phone number and e-mail address
Date, time and location of accident which caused the property damage or injury
Exact municipal address including a diagram and/or photo of accident location should be submitted with claim letter
Describe how the accident happened and names, phone numbers of any witnesses
Detailed description of your property damage or injury
Include documentation that you believe support your claim such as: photos, receipts and estimates
Outline why you believe the City is responsible for the accident
Did you report this accident to the City, if so, please provide name(s) of City staff involved
If a City Contractor was involved please provide contractor’s name
Failure to provide exact municipal address will delay the processing of your claim
Your claim letter can be received by e-mail, mail or fax:
City Clerk’s Office – Claims
1 Main Street South
Kenora, ON P9N 3X2
There will be an investigation by the City’s insurance adjusters to determine if the City is responsible for your loss.
The investigation will consist of gathering information from you and the City’s Roads division. Records from the division will be reviewed to determine if regular inspection and repair standards were upheld.
Typically, property damage claims are completed within 90 days.
In cases of extreme storm events (i.e. heavy rain, snowstorms or windstorms) the City does receive a higher volume of claims which generally extends the time it takes to process insurance claims. In these cases, the City’s investigation may take longer than 90 days. The adjuster will advise you if your claim falls in the “storm event” category.
Repairs to your vehicle can be expedited by making a claim through your automobile insurance company.
If your claim is denied
The City’s adjuster will outline the results of their investigation in a letter and provide you with a report that justifies the City’s denial.
It’s important to know that the majority of property damage claims made against the City of Kenora are denied as City divisions regularly meet or exceed standard service levels.