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Road repair costs skyrocket

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The city’s road repair costs have nearly doubled due to mild winter weather in recent years. The fluctuating weather has resulted in more moisture getting under the roads, resulting in cracks.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Some of the costs associated with keeping Oshawa’s roads and walkways safe for pedestrians and motorists have increased approximately 75 per cent in recent years, The Oshawa Express has learned.

“The sidewalks, the other pedestrian access ways and the roadways in particular are probably seeing an awful lot more displacement…on a seasonal basis than what we’ve seen historically,” says Gary Carroll, Oshawa’s director of engineering services.

As a result, the city is finding the need to send workers out in the winter months not just to salt and plow the roads, but also to fix potholes and heaved sidewalks.

Specifically, Oshawa’s budget for crack sealing has increased approximately 75 per cent this year, or an increase of anywhere between $75,000 and $100,000. In total, approximately 60 to 65 kilometres of cracks will be sealed around the city on 50 different streets in a preemptive measure to preserve the life of the roads.

This is because what the city is finding is that a lot of roads are deteriorating much faster than in the past.

“We’re finding more and more roads are at that stage in their life cycle that if we don’t hit them and hit them hard now, with the continuing climate exposure that they’re seeing, they’re going to deteriorate at a much, much quicker rate and therefore the type of repairs or intervention that we’re going to have to do is way more costly,” Carroll says.

The culprit behind the cost? A lack of a traditional Canadian winter, replaced instead with cold spells mixed with intermittent warmth.

“When you kind of have winter one week, spring the next week, and maybe fall the next week…(the road) doesn’t know what’s going on and it tends to wreak havoc,” Carroll says.

During a traditional winter, Carroll explains that permafrost will seep into the ground and the roads will become “dormant,” and see little movement. During a thaw, the roads will expand and cracks appear.

However, during the winters of recent years, this freeze-thaw cycle is repeated numerous times throughout the season, causing numerous periods of expansion and cracking. As cracks open further, more water gets in and it only makes things worse.

“If it doesn’t freeze up very quickly, it continues to expand and then expand again and again, which opens the cracks and leads to more water infiltration,” Carroll says.

And along with the temperatures, the storms, while less frequent, tend to hit harder.

“They’re coming at us fewer and far between, but when they do come, they’re very, very intense,” Carroll says.  “It’s forced us to kind of change our approach to how we attack these things.”

The city urges residents to report uneven sidewalks or curbs to Service Oshawa immediately so the issues can be rectified.