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This article was published 18/3/2015 (2171 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

AN early spring means an early pothole season.

Almost 700 potholes have been reported in Winnipeg this year, increasing from the 685 reported this time last year.

Potholes make for a bumpy ride on Stradbrook Avenue.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Potholes make for a bumpy ride on Stradbrook Avenue.

"We are worried about our customers' safety. We don't like calling the customers up telling them they potentially owe thousands of dollars because of the condition the road is in," said Joe Robichaud, Fountain Tire service adviser.

Since the beginning of March, 400 potholes have been reported.

Manitoba Public Insurance spokesman Brian Smiley said there have been 50 claims related to potholes this year.

"There are 1,300 (pothole-related) accidents on average per year, for the past five years," Smiley said.

The average cost of repairs ranges from $1,500 to $1,600, Smiley said.

Wheels can be damaged, tires blown, rims bent or broken, or suspension parts wrecked.

Robichaud said he has seen extreme situations, including an incident in which a customer hit a pothole, breaking their front coil spring, resulting in a punctured front tire, damage to the struts and front end. The repair bill was almost $3,000.

"I think (they) just wrote the vehicle off," Robichaud said. "It isn't good for business. I drive on the same roads as everyone else."

Last year, the city spent $2.6 million on pothole repairs. "On average, we can have up to eight to 12 crews per day working on potholes," spokeswoman Michelle Finley said.

Last year, 7,582 potholes were reported.

The concept of fixing potholes is misunderstood, said Ahmed Shalaby, head of civil engineering at the University of Manitoba.

"By the time potholes form, there is considerable damage to the pavements around them, (but) because of the number of potholes that require repair immediately after winter, it is not possible to apply permanent repair to the vast majority of them," Shalaby said.

Temporary patches -- filling the hole with patching material (stones and emulsified asphalt) -- are popular due to the low cost, Shalaby said

"Over-relying on temporary repairs causes the average condition of the road network to slide down, and it becomes far more difficult to repair the streets and to meet the public's expectation... It is always important to understand and to treat the root cause of potholes in order to reduce or eliminate their occurrence," Shalaby said.

Drivers are advised not to swerve to avoid potholes. "The driver could swerve into oncoming traffic or hit the vehicle beside them," Smiley said. "The driver should lower their speed and change lanes safely."

jenna.dulewich@freepress.mb.ca

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