Winter conditions have created the perfect storm for Highway 3B craters – otherwise known as very big potholes.
The ministry notes there are more wells than usual this year, but it hasn’t received more pothole complaints to date. And the car traps are not so deep after Emcon Services took advantage of the sunshine on Tuesday by packing temporary fill into some of the huge ruts that stretch through town and out toward Waneta Junction.
Intersections at Highway 3B in East Trail and at the Glenmerry lights are particularly treacherous due to large deep holes.
“We have certainly observed more potholes occurring through this stretch of highway in the month of January due to the freeze/thaw conditions,” the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) told the Times via email. “(As well as) the amount of precipitation that has been occurring and the saturated conditions of the ground at this time of year.“
The occurrence of a pothole is typically caused by water on top, within, and underneath the pavement structure.
Once a pothole forms, its size will be exacerbated by the influence of vehicle tires and the washing away of the asphalt material by the water within the pothole.
MoTI states, “The high amount of precipitation this winter has contributed to any crack or deformity in the pavement being filled with water. The number of freeze and thaw cycles also contribute to the number of potholes, as the water freezes and then thaws causing damage to the asphalt. As the winter months saw an unusual amount of these cycles, this created a perfect storm of conditions, resulting in an increase in potholes.”
The age of the highway doesn’t seem to factor in, as sections of Highway 3B were resurfaced at different times (20+ years) but Victoria Street Bridge to Waneta was resurfaced in 2005.
The provincial maintenance contractor for this area, Emcon Services, is continually patrolling, identifying and repairing potholes, the ministry states.
“This is part of their routine highways maintenance,” MoTI explained. “More permanent fixes will be completed in the spring when the weather is more suitable for paving work, to ensure the repairs will last. Repairs made during winter are temporary in nature due to limitations of the materials used in the repair.”
The ministry has not received any reports of injuries or vehicles damaged due to potholes.
“Keeping our roads and highways safe and in good condition is a priority,” stated MoTI. “And people can help by reporting potholes when they see them to the local maintenance contractor or by going onto DriveBC and clicking ‘Report a Problem.’”
Emcon’s toll free number is 1.866.353.3136.
As far as the City of Trail goes, head of public works, Chris McIsaac, says there does not appear to be more potholes forming in municipal streets than in past years.