Toronto sees surge in potholes on roads across city due to temperature swings

Recent temperature swings in Toronto have caused a spike in potholes across the city. As Nick Westoll reports, mechanics and municipal crews are trying to keep up.

After weeks of freezing and thawing temperatures in Toronto, the shifting weather is causing a surge in potholes across the city and with it increased reports of damage to vehicles.

“In the last two to three weeks, it has escalated greatly,” Sean Cooney-Mann, the store manager at OK Tire in Etobicoke, told CityNews when asked about the number of customer visits due to encounters with potholes.

“We’re seeing dramatic changes in the climate, we’re seeing bigger craters and potholes in the road(s), we’re getting numerous vehicles towed in on a daily basis with anything just from tire damage to a rim to a wheel bearing to severe suspension steering components.”

He said on days when there is rain, such as earlier in the week, the number of vehicles that get towed to the shop climbs.

When it comes to the type of damage potholes can cause vehicles, Cooney-Mann said repair costs have ranged between $41 and $3,500.

“We’ve something as simple as a blown-out tire that required a simple patch to the point where catastrophic suspension damage where the spindle, the knuckle, the wheel bearing, the rim and the tire needed to be replaced,” he said.

RELATED: Facts and figures about potholes in Toronto

Teresa Di Felice, the associate vice-president of government and community relations at CAA South Central Ontario, said the company is also seeing a higher number of calls tied to potholes.

“We’re gearing up for CAA’s annual worst roads campaign and we think it’s going to be a pretty busy year in terms of that campaign just because of the volume and the size of the potholes we’re seeing,” she told CityNews.

“We’re seeing a lot of potholes on even just smaller residential streets that people don’t often anticipate to have really big holes because there are lower volumes of traffic.”

In terms of why there is a noticeable increase in the number of potholes, Mark Mills, the City of Toronto’s manager of road operations, attributed it to the weather.

“What we’re seeing right now is a lot of freeze-thaw events. Freeze-thaw events are the perfect recipe for a pothole,” he said.

“What happens is the water penetrates the top layer of asphalt it freezes, it actually lifts the asphalt up a little bit. When we have a thaw, it creates a void and when that void is there traffic drives over that void it breaks up the asphalt and creates a pothole.”

The municipality typically spends between $4 million and $5 million to address potholes every year. Mills said he estimates crews are on track to do around 175,000 repairs this year, down from the all-time peak of around 275,000.

He encouraged anyone who sees potholes to report those to 311 Toronto for follow-up.

“We will make best efforts to fix it as soon as possible. I mean always keep your eye on the road, drive to the conditions of the roadway and again if we know the pothole is there and you let us know we’ll be out there as soon as possible,” Mills said, noting most potholes will be filled between four and seven days after the report is received.

Meanwhile, Cooney-Mann encouraged people to ensure their tires are fully inflated to help reduce the impact a pothole can cause. He reiterated the priority for drivers should be avoiding potholes.

“I’d want to get people to avoid potholes and restrict speed,” he said.

“At the point of impact, if it’s unavoidable, hit it flush on (and) decrease speed.”

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