Untold potholes punish Winnipeg drivers, vehicles
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A black SUV inched Monday through the murky, undulating waters covering northbound Route 90 near Dublin Avenue until its partially-submerged tires found the drop-off.
The vehicle’s front bumper hit the water with a sharp splash that sent waves to the edges of the roadway. The driver slowly manoeuvred out of the pothole, but not before the back tires suffered the same impact.
Sylvia Stecy, office administrator for nearby Prime Fasteners and Tools Winnipeg, was so fed up with watching vehicles smash through the pothole she was thinking of making a sign to warn drivers.
“We were watching people go 70 km/h through these,” she said. “Someone could get killed.”
“We were watching people go 70 km/h through these (potholes)… Someone could get killed.” – Sylvia Stecy, Prime Fasteners and Tools Winnipeg
The pothole has been there for over for “well over four weeks” — the same amount of time Stecy and other staff have been contacting the City of Winnipeg’s 311 info line to report the crater-like hole.
Stecy said she’s called the city multiple times, as recently as Sunday.
“We’ve had delivery drivers say they’re not even going to come to the front anymore because it’s too dreadful trying to get out of there. They just don’t want to wreck their vehicles,” Stecy said. “There was a semi that went down there last week and he busted his axle.”
A pothole in the curb lane of the section of Route 90 is much worse. Stecy estimates it’s roughly five-feet long, five-feet wide, and 2 1/2-feet deep. She said the city only installed pylons to direct drivers away from that hole Sunday.
Matthew Capina took this video of drivers cautiously making their way over a hidden pothole along Route 90 northbound between Dublin and Notre Dame early Monday afternoon.
City crews have patched these holes several times, Stecy said, adding workers didn’t drain the holes before mending them until their fourth visit. Traffic and water freed the material from the surface within three hours, she added.
“These patches are fine, but they won’t last in this weather… It’s a major street. It’s a major part of Winnipeg.”
The section of Route 90 was down to one lane. On midday Monday, traffic was backed up south past Dublin Avenue.
A spokesperson for the City of Winnipeg said Monday crews have repaired more than 33,000 potholes this year, and 311 has received 3,323 pothole-related calls.
“Due to unfavorable wet weather and wet road conditions at this time of year, crews may have to return several times to repair the same pothole in the coming days to improve the condition of the roadway,” the spokesperson said.
“When temperatures warm up and regular hot asphalt becomes available in mid-May, crews will return to make permanent repairs.”
At some point, every Winnipeg driver must choose to manoeuvre around a pothole or risk going through it.
“When temperatures warm up and regular hot asphalt becomes available in mid-May, crews will return to make permanent repairs.” – Spokesperson, City of Winnipeg
A crumbly-edged hollow in the northbound lane of St. Anne’s Road by the Real Canadian Superstore, which has existed for at least several days, has forced many to make a split-second decision.
Some vehicles escape into the inside lane; others use the final stretch of a bus lane as a sharp detour. Those who find themselves stopped at the precipice of the pit must merge with traffic approaching from the rear from a major intersection.
This pothole — one of thousands like it that have left a wake of popped tires, damaged rims, and insurance claims — poses a risk to drivers, said Darren Kellner, manager of the nearby Penner Certified Auto Service.
“People have to hit the brakes during rush hour. Hopefully, nobody rear ends anybody and pushes them into that hole. If anyone hits it hard enough, they’re going to have severe damage to their vehicles,” Kellner said.
A city spokesperson said crews plan to fix that pothole within the next 48 hours.
Many of Winnipeg’s roadways will need to be torn up and rebuilt in the coming years, said Ahmed Shalaby, professor of civil engineering at the University of Manitoba.
“A lot of the roads we are seeing problems with were built in the period from the 1960s to the 1980s. They are reaching end-of-service life and are in need of replacement,” Shalaby said. “They will have gone through several iterations of maintenance and reconstruction but are now, generally, in poor condition.”
Shalaby explained the city uses materials of “acceptable quality” to fill the potholes, though a repair will not last if the road itself is reaching the end of its life — the material needs an adequate surface to which it can attach.
“The city is reconstructing a certain percentage of its roads every year, but when you’re dealing with what was a major boom in the 1960s to 1980s with infrastructure, it becomes more difficult to fix them all at the same time.”
Updated on Monday, April 25, 2022 8:50 PM CDT: Changes 48 days to 48 hours.
Updated on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 12:22 AM CDT: Adds video
Updated on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 8:54 AM CDT: Adds credit