The quick and drastic temperature changes between winter and spring cause a lot of expansion and retraction of Edmonton’s road surfaces, forming some pretty substantial potholes in certain areas. Those potholes can cause flat tires and damage to suspension systems if drivers aren’t careful. While the city of Edmonton can’t control the temperature shifts that cause potholes to form, a new testing system may be able to help find a better way of repairing those potholes.
According to an article in the Edmonton Journal, transportation researchers are looking into new methods of patching potholes that will provide stronger, longer-lasting repairs.
Before discussing the solution, let’s take a look at Edmonton’s pothole problem. In 2013, Edmonton repair crews patched a record 750,000 potholes throughout the city. This year, Edmonton transportation officials will be spending an additional $55 million to fix some of the city’s busiest roads that have become full of potholes.
While frequent freeze-thaw cycles are to blame for the creation of Edmonton’s potholes, the asphalt mix that has been used for the past two decades may not be as effective as it was previously thought to be.
New testing procedures by the city may help reduce the number and frequency of potholes forming in the future. To test the materials that go into the patching asphalt, researches are taking samples from current road construction sites and testing them in a lab multiple times. By putting the asphalt through freeze and thaw cycles before using it on the roads, researchers can find the best mix of materials to ensure it will hold up against frequent freezing and thawing.
The new testing process will help city officials determine how much they should spend on asphalt additives that contribute to the strength of the asphalt. By weighing cost versus effectiveness, the city plans to cut down the frequency of potholes forming and reduce the cost of annual repairs.
With the improvement of patching materials and a current focus on repairing major routes, city council is attempting to fix roads well enough that less than 10 percent of roads need repairs by the year 2019.