Ottawa drivers face thousands of teeth-rattling holes that are costing us millions

Potholes are creating obstacle courses for drivers and cyclists, costing taxpayers almost $5 million a year.

“It seems for whatever reason, this year has proven to be a little more severe,” said CAA spokesman Korey Kennedy.

“With either the somewhat warm conditions — albeit sporadic throughout the days — but obviously with the extremely cold breaks, it does significant damage to the roadways.”

Due to a roller-coaster of freeze-thaw cycles, an estimated 40,000 potholes across the city have been repaired from Jan. 1-March 19, with almost 2,800 of those reported through 311.

“The city’s maintenance crews respond quickly once they are advised that a pothole has formed,” Kevin Wylie, manager of roads, traffic operations and maintenance told the Sun by e-mail.

“Even where its resources get stretched by rapidly changing weather, as we saw in early February, the city is able to get potholes fixed within the times set out in the minimum maintenance standards.”

New potholes open up daily, so the exact number of them isn’t known. However, repairs are calculated by the tonnes of asphalt used.

On average, city staff mend 180,000 potholes each year at an annual cost of $4.8 million. In 2010, it was $2.2 million.

“Expenditures tend to fluctuate year to year but have not increased overall,” Wylie said.

“The winter hot asphalt that the city has used over the last three years has allowed for more permanent patching and avoided the same pothole having to be filled numerous times in one season.”

One hole made for one angry west-end resident.

Dan Anstey will have to spend about $300 to fix a tire.

Anstey was driving along Vanier Pkwy. near Montreal Rd. at the beginning of March, hitting “the largest pothole I have ever seen.”

He couldn’t swerve around the massive hole “due to its size and location in the road,” Anstey said.

The pothole “flattened my tire and it is not repairable due to sidewall damage.”

When he pulled over, Anstey joined another motorist, Alyona Popovych, who had hit the same rim-wrecker.

Her damage was worse: A flat tire and two bent rims, costing about $900 out of pocket.

They phoned 311 and filed a claim.

The pothole has been patched up, Anstey said, but they’re still waiting to hear back from the city regarding reimbursement.

“I think with all the money that we pay in taxes, they could staff a couple of people to go through claims quicker,” said Anstey.

The turnaround time to resolve a claim against the city “varies,” the Sun was told.

From 2005-10, the city received 1,499 claims, 89% of which were denied.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/03/20/ottawa-drivers-face-thousands-of-teeth-rattling-holes-that-are-costing-us-millions

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