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Pothole situation could get worse, says city

Monday, March 17, 2014   by: Michael Purvis

We could be in for a for a bumpier ride than usual.

Potholes crop up every spring, but all the snow we've had this year and the freezing and thawing that has been happening recently is a potential problem for city streets, says Mike Lebel, superintendent of public works.

As the snow melts, the resulting water pools on the asphalt and when it freezes again, it “pops” and creates a pothole, he said.

“That’s the biggest issue, the freeze/thaw cycle,” said Lebel.

That’s why crews continue to work to clear snow and ice from catchbasins and to remove snowbanks from roadsides, said Lebel.

Five pothole crews are currently patrolling the city and public works has started up its asphalt recycling machine, said Lebel.

Some areas, however, have been hard to fix this early in the season, he said.

“If the holes are full of water, there isn’t a material in the world invented yet that will stick,” said Lebel.

Great Northern Road and Second Line is one of those spots, where crews have repeatedly filled holes with cold mix asphalt, he said.

Lebel said the busy intersection is difficult to fill during the day and he expects a weekend crew will likely attempt to use hot mix to address that particular spot.

Great Northern Road has been a trouble spot in general, and Lebel said he may request the top layer of asphalt be stripped and replaced during the summer.

Anyone wanting to report a pothole that needs to be filled, should call public works at 705-759-5201.

************************* would love to see your best pothole photos.

And if you’ve had a run in with a pothole, tell us about it.

We’ll put together a photo gallery and publish some of the best stories.

Send photos and stories to

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Tag33&1/3rd 3/17/2014 11:00:04 AM Report

Drain the holes first?
Beej 3/17/2014 11:05:44 AM Report

Pot holes??
More like mine fields!!
No wonder, they are only 20 years behind repaving the roads.
Soon people will begin to lose small cars in them.
It's pretty bad when every wheel of your vehicle is in a different hole at the same time!
AlgoBryan 3/17/2014 11:14:11 AM Report

Drain water first than place warm cold patch and use a plate packer for compaction on top to displace the remaining water and to adhere the cold mix in the hole.
superior87 3/17/2014 11:14:48 AM Report

Guess what? Go to any other city and it's the same issues. That's what happens to asphalt when you get this type of weather.

It's like people here have never stepped foot into another city. Every city has pothole issues at this time of year.
bocca1 3/17/2014 11:14:58 AM Report

Whenever you start to feel sorry for
yourself as you navigate potholes take a ride out to the city section of Maki/Red Rock Road. Even though it is a well travelled road the city refuses to acknowledge it so that they can "justify" not fixing it as has been requested for 50 years. Ditching is poor to non-existent so the road IS the ditch. Spring thaw EASILY makes this the Sault's, if not the Algoma districts', worst road EVER. Summer rains turn it into a washboard, dry spells turn it into a dust storm. Band aid solutions help for a day or two but decades of neglect has increased the price to fix it correctly to now being another justification for not fixing it at all. The city wouldn't even commit to a TEN year plan to fix it. Money for a dog park was rated a higher priority.
mudrunner 3/17/2014 11:18:00 AM Report

Why not use large propane torch to first heat the old Asphalt an evaporate the water,then place the hot Asphalt in the hole. That's how they use to do it back in the 70-80s
Javaman 3/17/2014 11:20:35 AM Report

I know we had a freeze cycle...but what is he talking about a THAW CYCLE??? I must have slept through that cycle.
Beej 3/17/2014 11:29:54 AM Report

If you go to other cities and see the same issues, it's because
they also haven't bothered to repave the roads in decades.
SLV1931 3/17/2014 11:35:13 AM Report

just throw some baking flower in the holes to absorb the water. then pave it.
mudrunner 3/17/2014 11:38:34 AM Report

Flower will not work the water is still in the flower.
superior87 3/17/2014 11:45:47 AM Report

Beej - don't worry, they'll redo the roads and then you can have a new round of complaining because your commute was affected by the roadworks.

Don't kid yourself, no matter what city works are done people are going to be on here complaining about it. You can set your watch to it, it happens like clockwork.
Nunavut 3/17/2014 11:46:30 AM Report

Instead of wasting our money on bicycle lanes for the one percent of population that will use it (as reported via all cities survey last week) we should save our money and use for potholes and repavings , because if we don't we will be paying for it anyway with front end and tire rim repairs.
jdu 3/17/2014 11:47:38 AM Report

they should try rubberized ashpalt that has been used in western canada. The highways out there have had it last 8 years with great results and still looks new. It was reported in the news. All our streets should have it.
Shortz 3/17/2014 11:49:12 AM Report

From the article:

"The snow melts, the resulting water pools on the asphalt and when it freezes again, it “pops” and creates a pothole"

This isn't quite correct. Water freezing into ice on intact and undamaged asphalt isn't going to cause potholes. However, water freezing in cracks or existing holes in the pavement will cause potholes by the action of the the expansion that takes place when water freezes. Maybe if the city would at least seal the pavement cracks in the summer, it would be a major step on preventative maintenance. They did this several years ago on Trunk Rd towards the eastern city limit, and I don't see too many issues with pothole issues in that area
DeeFlems 3/17/2014 12:01:25 PM Report

“That’s the biggest issue, the freeze/thaw cycle,” said Lebel.

Nnnnoooooo......the BIGGEST issue is the LACK of PROPER maintenance of our roads in the last 5-10 years which is compounding on itself every year consecutively...the freeze/thaw cycle is something that happens every year and has been dealt with before.

Stop making excuses for budget money that needs to be spent on road maintenance being spent elsewhere.

All these cold patches are nothing but a bandaid that makes things even worse when they come loose than what we started out with.

Do it right the first time and it's done.

It feels like a post-apolocolyptic world driving down our streets right now....I half expect to see Zombies running around while driving down Black road...
Wisenheimer 3/17/2014 12:09:31 PM Report

How many potholes could be filled for the 15k they just threw at the tub, sitting on the bottom of the marina.
TFinn 3/17/2014 12:10:31 PM Report

The problem lies with training and proper equipment ..or the lack of it, I should add. This city needs designated equipment designed to handle just pot holes and certain rough confined areas. By sweeping out an area or pot hole and applying some cold patch or asphalt is a very temporary thing, usually it will not last more than a day or so, especially any well travelled areas. This is probably the biggest waste of tax money, man hours, equipment and materials. In the long run it will exceeds costs of doing it the proper way the very first time. There are proper ways to repair pot holes and there are band aids which in the end , in my view, temporary fixes are a complete waste of resources.
soowat 3/17/2014 12:17:24 PM Report

An open letter to Joe and Deb

Please form a pothole advisory committee then hire all the experts that have offered advice on this site. Take their advice and we will be the only community with no potholes
ThinkAgain 3/17/2014 12:20:16 PM Report

Funny you drive down the I-75, never see a pot hole- the US side spends money a little differently.
Canadians like to over pay there politicians,to many sitting in the office that's where the money has been going for the last 20 years(that's why we have a lot pot holes)
KMF61MCF 3/17/2014 12:54:36 PM Report

How many pot holes can we fill with the $6000.00 raise the CAO gave himself last year. Then had the nerve to ask the tax payers what services we wanted cut to Avoid having a tax rate increase. Nice new Dodge cars( chargers??) the City Inspectors are driving around. Wonder what they all cost. Essential services hmm. Like every one else says remove the water from the pot holes.That was the problem last year and they still haven't figured out how to remove the water from the pot holes to fill and patch them?? Start cutting the number of Councillors per ward from 2 to 1.The population of the Sault has decreased so badly why do we still have 2 Councillors per ward? Why do we need both a Mayor and a Cao?? Start cutting and saving us tax payers some money. Rate payers Association needs to look into this.
Javaman 3/17/2014 1:01:00 PM Report

I suspect the ratepayers association is in bed with the CAO .What effect have they ever had on reducing city costs?
Gumby54 3/17/2014 1:23:25 PM Report

New Dodges are actually recycled Police Cruisers.
Bad Dawg 3/17/2014 2:23:00 PM Report

simply put..... they are lazy. they don't spend enough time fixing them. Just put a pile of hot-mix and pack it by hand (and do a poor job)!! Take turns, cause the other 2 bozo's holding up shovels need to do some work for their paychecks!!
Sam C 3/17/2014 2:29:32 PM Report

Wow. you'd think we were the only city in North America to have potholes. This is a problem for EVERY "winter" city. And all it takes is one crack.

@Shortz... there are potholes on Trunk, too. But it's also newer pavement, with fewer cracks. Give it time.

@DeeFlems... so, how should the City patch potholes? They actually do use a hot patch -- they have trailers that keep patching compound hot. The problem is that a patch IS just a bandaid.

Certainly you don't expect the City to rebuild a road every time a pothole appears?

THE GODFATHER 3/17/2014 2:44:30 PM Report

Gumby54 3/17/2014 2:50:54 PM Report

"so, how should the City patch potholes?"
As previous posters have mentioned; the present strategy is insufficient. In previous years a leaf blower had been used to blow standing water from the hole, a large propane torch was used to dry the remainder and heat the substrate, oil of some sort was put in the hole and reheated prior to putting in the HOT (not air cooled sitting in an open trailer in sub zero weather)Asphalt material. This was then compacted with a gas powered vibrator not the one or 2 swings with a flat shovel. There was no loose material left all over the place either. Somehow that practice has been abandoned or the Supervisor is not ensuring that the procedure is followed. A little bit of effort the first time would eliminate the requirement to redo the same holes continuously. I noticed that on the International bridge for example they also use some sort of thin cover that adheres to the surrounding good pavement. This has been applied in colder weather than we currently have. Maybe something our City Board of works could / should investigate. We seem to have unlimited manpower and material to do a job several times but not enough time to do it right the first time.
Lone24 3/17/2014 2:58:37 PM Report

All the ones complaining about the potholes are probably the ones who do over the speed limit. They must find it a real drag because they can't speed.
rockbanger 3/17/2014 3:53:42 PM Report

Drive by Joe's house and street and count the potholes!

When he lived on Henrietta years ago on a corner lot....he had the road in front and to the side of his home re-paved...

No Potholes
mallet 3/17/2014 3:54:44 PM Report


The problem is that everyone wants to have their potholes fixed ASAP. The process you advocate takes 2 or 3 times as long as just throwing the cold patch in, tapping it down and moving on. So which would you prefer having the pothole fixed in front of your house today or wait and feel the shockwaves for a couple of days?? It is very difficult to please everyone especially after the winter we have experienced this season, will we get the same next season I do not know, but I hope not..
shju 3/17/2014 4:00:17 PM Report

I have a new idea, hire 1000 new people and repave everything. I am willing to chip in an extra $25,000 for my house taxes to pay for it!
Gumby54 3/17/2014 4:04:37 PM Report

They throw in the patch and tap it down today, again tomorrow and again the next day. What have we saved? Do it right the first time; if we do it that way all the time, eventually we get faster and better and don't waste as much money in manpower and material. Do those areas with the most traffic first and work your way out. Sounds simple, but then sometimes we forget to KISS.
foxylady069 3/17/2014 4:05:27 PM Report

I broke a an inner tie rod about 4 years ago driving on St Georges due to a pot hole. Moved away from the area and didn't travel the road frequently. Now I've just moved back to this area and the same spot is just as bad if not worse. I dread going to Wal-Mart now as the whole section between second line and the Wal-Mart entrance is on great Northern is horrible. I pity the highway 17 commuters that have to travel it frequently. I think the city has forgotten about Pozzebon too. the whole area looks like a rolling river at night when your headlights are shining and you feel like you are riding a small boat of the Atlantic ocean! I have lived in other areas of Ontario and have seen some better and some worse. I am sure there is a better solution then the patches (which are just dug up every year by the graters).
SLV1931 3/17/2014 4:18:08 PM Report

everyone who commented on this story should get off their computer and go fix your pot hole yourself.
Sam C 3/17/2014 4:20:17 PM Report

Gumby... I think mallet hit the nail on the head. (Pun intended).

There is little point to doing more than a quick patch, right now. It's still winter.

Yes, we all know we are 10 years behind in infrastructure upgrades... and we all know why. But we're not going to get caught-up during pothole season.

foxy... I've been driving for over 35 years, and have never damaged a vehicle by hitting a pothole.

I slow down, steer around them when possible, and when I cannot avoid one I DO NOT hit the brake. By hitting the brake, you can do more damage -- the wheel no longer rolls free, but is locked in place, making the impact harsher.
Gumby54 3/17/2014 4:27:48 PM Report

In 35 years of driving you have never had a wheel alignment done on any of your vehicles? That is also considered damage - albeit - maybe just minor but still damage. Also, it would not take much extra time to use a pneumatic tamper even for cold patch this time of year. Sure beats the 2 spanks with a flat shovel they do now. Maybe the material would bond a little better and stay in the hole for more than a few hours.
TFinn 3/17/2014 5:19:12 PM Report

Want to see something interesting .…? … go on Google Maps street view most anywhere on John Street as one example... looks damn nice …!! Now what ever area you live in the Sault, you may or may not be paying more taxes then John St. taxes ..?? Is your street in better or much worse shape than John St.??
I am very familiar with one particular street in the Sault that pays much more for their house and property taxes then residence on John St, but the street with much higher taxes is like travelling in a wooden wheeled wagon on the Oregon Trail of the old west..! What’s wrong with that picture. ?? Shouldn't people paying higher taxes have the same attention as other streets and deserve to have their road ways without huge problems such as heaves and pot holes ...?? .... just saying ..!
David Poluck 3/17/2014 5:20:12 PM Report

When they invent hover cars...pot holes will be no longer a problem. Until then...
mudrunner 3/17/2014 5:52:01 PM Report

Like I said before

Why not use large propane torch to first heat the old Asphalt an evaporate the water,then place the hot Asphalt in the hole. That's how they did it back in the 70-80s an it worked great.
bonnie&Clyde 3/17/2014 6:45:13 PM Report

happy camper 3/17/2014 6:48:30 PM Report

wow to the ones that know how to fix the potholes why dont you stop and take a shovel from one of the ones that you say are just leaning on it and show them how to do it right . There sure are a lot of smart pothole fixers here!!!!!!!!!
blackhawk 1 3/17/2014 7:29:27 PM Report

What a bunch morons,comedy central, good grief,lol
Powerwise 3/17/2014 7:33:47 PM Report

Fortunately I was insecure enough to buy a pickup truck.

All of my insecurities are null and void; my truck is the fortress of my ego.

Eat that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Combine that with our useless police force and you have a force to be reckoned with.

You ready, Sault Ste. Marie?
Lleoy 3/17/2014 7:41:05 PM Report

Filling potholes are not worth the life of a worker, people don't even slow down, so wack em with a shovel and run. Maybe we need more police presence around the workers, I am positive the fines will pay for the pothole repairs. I know if a car hit me on the road, you will lose everything you own for lawyers fees.
gr84u 3/17/2014 10:28:58 PM Report

Maybe the city should start spending ALL the money earmarked for road repair each year on road repair and stop diverting it to other projects or special interests. Our streets look like the aftermath of an extended war and no amount of pothole repair is going to make the situation any better. Get off your lazy asses, put your tiny minds together and come up with a realistic plan of attack to start repaving all the streets that are in bad shape (not just the main ones, ALL THE STREETS). Maybe in 40-50 years from now you will be close to completing them all and then you can start all over again.
You can start your war chest for financing this project by cutting all the fat around city hall then putting a road tax on PUC and Union Gas (look at their year end profits and how much they are rapeing us for) then canceling all the needless handouts and city funding to special interests in the city. TAX DOLLARS SPENT ON NESSITIES ONLY
Powerwise 3/17/2014 10:42:15 PM Report


"Maybe we need more police presence around the workers"

Maybe we need a police presence on the road, PERIOD.

I'm ordinarily more than respectful of our police force, but it's almost as if they've totally abandoned enforcing traffic law in Sault Ste. Marie.
TFinn 3/18/2014 11:05:36 AM Report

SLV1931 3/17/2014 4:18:08 PM

Why ..? I pay huge tax dollars on different properties in different locations throughout the city. ... we should expect something in return for that, road maintenance is just one of those things. It was a silly comment that we should repair the potholes ourselves.
kbaybiie 3/18/2014 11:09:17 AM Report

Major issue : poor maintenance PERIOD

I laugh at the "dodges are the recycled cruisers." umm yeah... last time i checked dodge doesn't take in use ford to destroy and recycle? and the crown vic cruisers went to another association?
Gumby54 3/18/2014 12:08:06 PM Report

If you would look back in the archives, you will see that this was already a contentious issue on this site. The Police were due to turn in their used cruisers and the City decided to purchase them - for very low $, repaint them, put on City logo's and provide them to City staff that had previously used their own vehicles and been reimbursed mileage etc. The city claimed it would work out cheaper in the long run.
Police services had moved away from the old Crown Vic's and toward the Dodge products.
habsfan 3/18/2014 12:45:40 PM Report

Lets start with how a pothole is made. When you drive down the road in the summer time and you see all the cracks in the asphalt and you used to see the workers cutting these with a saw. Remember? Then they would fill these with a liquid tar to seal the road from the weather. Remember? This process stops water from getting in between the layers of asphalt and freezing, causing the road to buckle. Then the plow goes by and removes the asphalt thus causing the pothole. We stopped this practice because it was to expensive. Really? Five pothole crews. Really? It has to start at the top but our Alderpeople are to busy or to scared to rock the boat. There must be a review of our Board of Works from the outside.To many people getting paid for doing nothing and unless we the people get mad nothing will change.Edmonton, Alberta has had a pilot project going for the last ten years, experimenting with rubberized asphalt and the results are nothing short of incredible. Anyone can google this including our Alderpeople. But laziness is rampid in this city. Why isn't Mister Green (Butland) not all over this. Edmonton has had these roads for over ten years without a problem and I think they are a little more north than us. As long as they can keep reaching into our pockets with the same old mentality from years ago then we will smother in tax increases. You want the young people to stay in this city? Then vote them in next election and let todays technology guide our city into the future. Thanks for listening.
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