A pitch for the city to fund an emergency pothole repair plan calls for urgent repairs to routes with speed limits above 50 km/h.
The motion from Coun. Kevin Klein also calls for reports in each of the next six months on specific locations where potholes are reported and repaired. Finally, it also requests that an interactive public map be created to display pothole locations and their repair status.
While "cold-mix" patching material that’s available to fill the road cracks and crevices during colder weather can wear away quickly and require repeated applications, Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood) said there is still a clear need to do more work now, instead of waiting for warmer weather.
"We’re blocking off roads on major arteries, we’re blocking off roads on train corridors (to cope with severe pothole repairs). And we can’t just leave it there until May or June," he told the Free Press.
"I don’t know why we wouldn’t fill it right now, to help residents with their vehicles and make sure (trade corridors continue) to operate as necessary. Let’s turn our focus… away from the status quo, away from being compliant and just focus on these potholes and get the job done."
Klein’s motion suggests the repairs could be funded through existing road-renewal money and savings found by "correcting the well-documented (alleged) inefficiencies occurring within the Traffic Signals Branch of the public works department."
Klein’s assumption that extra cash could quickly be found there follows allegations made in a recent Free Press series. A road-safety advocate has accused the department of wasting millions of dollars on unneeded work.
Klein did not include an estimated cost for the road work or how much each funding source would be expected to provide.
In recent days, there has been considerable public concern over the state of Winnipeg’s streets in the wake of extreme weather and freeze-thaw cycles.
Klein said city staff are doing a great job at addressing the challenge within existing resources but clearly need help.
"That’s what the reallocation is about," he said.
His motion argues the deteriorated roads create a legitimate safety issue.
"Urgent action is required to repair potholes on major city routes where cars are travelling over 50 km/h and safety is a factor.… There isn’t sufficient time to develop a study or report, or to proceed to committee, to address the immediate issues," the motion states.
Mayor Brian Bowman agreed current traffic routes are in very poor condition.
"Right now it’s brutal. We know it, it’s absolutely brutal. The conditions are terrible right now… The challenge is, (with weather) conditions right now, (the fixes are) not taking, so (crews) have to come back repeatedly."
The mayor said he has yet to decide if Klein’s motion would improve the situation, since he’d like to see it assessed by city experts first.
"I’d like to hear from the public service about what they’re doing right now and what’s possible," said Bowman.
The mayor said he’d also like more detail on what the measures could cost.
"When you’re voting on something, you want to know what dollars you are actually going (to spend), it’s not just on the back of a napkin," he said.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.