Potholes plague city after harsh winter

Vancouver dealing with significant costs for road repairs


Reported by Chelsea Powrie

Vancouver’s long winter appears to be over but the snow and ice has left the city’s roads filled with an unprecedented number of potholes and cracks that will require significant repairs.

Jag Sandhu, a City of Vancouver spokesperson, said the city received 212 reports of potholes in December and more than 250 in January. Sandhu said that was an increase over last year, with 220 potholes reported in January 2016.

“We prioritize deeper potholes, and any potholes likely to cause damage or injury,” said Sandhu in an email to The Voice. “We also consider things like areas with high traffic volume, and close proximity to establishments like hospitals and schools.”

Sandhu said the city does not have a projected final cost for road repairs at this time, nor does it have data available on the total number of potholes that will need to be filled. The city estimates a pothole costs an average of $13 each to fill.

The cost of Metro Vancouver pothole repairs increasing

In 2015, the city repaired 33,432 potholes — a slightly higher number than in 2014 — and spent about $450,000 on the fixes. That tab is expected to be much higher this winter season.

Vancouver got hit with several snowfalls this year and temperatures dropped low enough for ice to form on roads and sidewalks. In hilly areas, buses got stuck, causing transit systems to grind to a halt. Many motorists couldn’t get their cars out of their neighbourhoods. The slick conditions required heavy salt and sanding runs by the city, which contributed to the damaged roads.

Sam Tremblay of Tremblay Motors said potholes can knock a vehicle’s wheel alignment out of balance and cause tire and rim damage, especially on newer cars with aluminum wheels. Tremblay said his shop has seen roughly a 25 per cent increase, compared to previous years, in customers’ vehicles damaged from potholes.

“It’s obviously because we’ve had a tougher winter this year,” said Tremblay of the increase in repairs.

City of Vancouver’s report on pothole repair in 2016

Residents express frustration with potholes 

Some Vancouver residents have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration with the ongoing pothole problem. Twitter user @Rehgan_T tweeted: “If a cop were to follow me around Vancouver for a day they would [probably] think I’m drunk but really I’m just swerving to miss all the potholes.” Another user, @ejandaj2014, posted that it was “potholes galore” in the city.

The most recent snow response update to city council on Feb. 8 revealed the city used more than 12 times the average amount of salt for a normal Vancouver winter. The city had spent half of the estimated $10.6 million budgeted for snow response in 2017.

City needs people to call 3-1-1 to report a pothole

The City of Vancouver relies on its citizens to report potholes, inviting them to call 3-1-.1, the city’s help number, or download the city’s VanConnect app. The city website advertises an average 48-hour turnaround period between receiving a public pothole complaint and having it fixed. The app shows some repair requests from up to three weeks ago are still listed as “in progress.”

Jen Roote, an authorized ICBC insurance advisor with Westland Insurance, said pothole damage falls under collision coverage, which is purchased on top of general coverage, and ICBC puts the blame on the driver.

“Unfortunately, even though it’s not necessarily your fault, it does affect your insurance rates, because it’s considered an at-fault claim,” said Roote, noting a driver’s record and number of years with a licence will affect insurance premiums. “It’s like you crashing into something else.”

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