It’s early spring and there are lots of pot holes to fill in Maple Ridge

Worst year in a long while as freeze and thaw erodes pavement

Roads are crumbling after long winter.

Roads are crumbling after long winter.

First they had to haul away all the white stuff in what was one of the snowiest winters in a while.

Now the spring thaw has revealed the effects of three months of freezing temperatures, followed by spells of thawing, all of which turn asphalt into something resembling cookie crumbs.

So far, the City of Maple Ridge has identified about 100 potholes on city streets, about three times the usual number, said Walter Oleschak, the city’s superintendent of roads and fleet.

And in the last few days it’s patched about 34 of those permanently.

“It’s definitely is the worst year we have had since I can remember anyways,” said Oleschak.

The city hasn’t had many complaints about tire-crunching, suspension-smashing pot holes, but when it does, there’s always someone available, 24/7, at the public works yard who can run out and make a quick patch.

The city has a public works staffer on standby all year, 24 hours a day, to respond to such issues, including flooding, downed trees, etc.

The initial strategy in responding to a pothole is to fix it temporarily by just packing in cold asphalt.

When time and weather permits, that’s followed by a permanent repair using hot asphalt. That can only be done on dry days however.

If a section of road is really bad it will be cut out and entirely repaved.

So far this year, Maple Ridge has spent about $32,000 on repairing the holes.

“It’s definitely more than previous years.”

This year’s budget calls for spending about $1.8 million on the city’s paving program. Most roads, last barely a dozen years, before repaving is required, although residential roads can last year 20 years.

In Pitt Meadows, operations superintendent Randy Evans says a three-person crew will just patch as they go and don’t track the numbers.

“I’ve been here 10 years and I’d say by far this is the worst year I’ve ever seen for asphalt damage.”

He said during the winter there were about four cycles of warming and freezing. “Water gets down into the pores of the asphalt, freezes, and just buckles the asphalt, just pops it off.”

So far this year, the city’s already spent on pothole repairs what they spend in the entire year.

He expects total cost to hit about $50,000 this year for repairing potholes compared to the usual amount of $20,000.

In the last couple weeks, the pounding traffic has shown the hidden damage, he added.

This winter’s heavy snowfall has also meant most cities exceeding their snow removal budgets.

Maple Ridge will probably have spent half a million dollars plowing snow from December to March. Each year, the city budgets $120,000 for snow removal.