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Potholes pop up in Toronto

Click for videos about Toronto's annual pothole problem
Click for videos about Toronto's annual pothole problem

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

March 3, 2011 — Signs of spring are here and while temperatures are warming, conditions are ripe for potholes on city streets.

Crews working to repair the potholes
Crews working to repair the potholes

The Weather Network released the 2011 Spring Outlook earlier this week, and as signs of spring appear, city crews are preparing for the potentially damaging change in seasons.

The cold and warm air continue to battle it out and the fluctuating temperatures can make for challenging conditions on the roads.

“This is typically when we see the increase in potholes,” says Myles Currie, Director of Transportation Services with the city of Toronto.

“During the day we see temperatures rising above freezing and at night dropping, so that's the recipe for potholes.” Currie adds that moisture on the roads can increase the pothole potential as well.

“The water will melt, run in through the cracks in between the layers of asphalt, overnight the temperatures freeze causing ice to form and lifts the asphalt. And then as cars drive over that lifted asphalt it breaks, resulting in a pothole,” explains Currie.

Extensive road work last summer could prevent an increase in potholes this year
Extensive road work last summer could prevent an increase in potholes this year

On average, each crater that develops costs around $20-25 to fix and last year the city of Toronto filled close to 200,000 potholes.

Currie says the amount of road work the city did last summer however, could result in fewer potholes throughout the spring.

“So this year approximately 27,000 pothole repairs have been done since January 1, compared to over 30 last year.”

Potholes aren't just a drain on municipalities' public works budgets; they can also cost drivers hundreds in car repairs. Potholes can damage a vehicle's tires and undercarriage and cause the vehicle to slip out of alignment, which means it won't handle as well. For that reason, potholes should be avoided at all costs, says Paul Datzkiw with CAA.

“The first thing you’re going to want to do when you see or encounter a pothole is try and swerve to avoid it,” he says. “Always be very cautious and aware of your surroundings -- there could be a pedestrian or another vehicle in the way.”

If it's impossible to drive around the pothole, Datzkiw recommends slowing down as much as possible and rolling over the pothole at low speed.

“That will reduce the damage to your vehicle, and also provide better handling of the vehicle.”

Drivers are encouraged to report potholes in their neighbourhoods by calling 311.

For a closer look at what the spring season will bring your way, check out the 2011 Spring Outlook. You can also head to the Canadian Cities Index for an up-to-date look at the current weather.

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