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October 28, 2017 4:45 am

Pothole Costs Unsustainable Says Skakun

Thursday, April 16, 2015 @ 4:53 PM

Prince George, B.C. – Pothole repairs costs have Prince George City Councillor Brian Skakun concerned.

A new city report says costs are up the first quarter of 2015. For instance, the report reveals $107,257, $165,600 and $294,337 was spent for 2012, 2013 and 2014 on cold patching respectively, while $142,820 has been spent on cold patching in just the first two months of 2015.

“I guess the biggest concern is that from what I’ve seen, and many people in the community see, the asphalt is breaking down much sooner than it used to. That deals with the issue of quality and quality control.”

Skakun adds it’s frustrating to hear there were 108 pothole repairs from January 1 to February 14 on the section of road from 18th Avenue between Ospika and Foothills this year, when there were just 7 from January 1 to February 13 in 2014.

“The point is administration didn’t know how many of those potholes were one’s that had been re-filled several times this year,” he says. “And it also sounds like we get the cold asphalt on the open market where we can get the best deal but I think we need to start looking at where we can get the best asphalt at a reasonable price.”

He says they could also learn something by looking east.

“I know the City of Edmonton, which is much bigger than us, they do hot-patch in the winter and they produce it themselves.”

And despite the fact the city has increased its capital paving budget, from $3.5 million in 2012 to $7 million in 2014 and 2015, he feels it’s still not sustainable.

“It’s not sustainable because the problem areas where we keep re-patching, have we looked at cutting out some of these sections and filling them in properly? We can’t keep dumping money into it.”


Well, I’m sure Skakun knows that this particular stretch of road would have been one of the most well-traveled during the Winter Games and who the hell would want visitors to our city going away muttering about crappy streets?
As for diminishing quality of asphalt filler, where is the city getting it and who is responsible for ensuring quality control? Can PG, like Edmonton, afford to manufacture our own asphalt? If so, it might be a good investment, given that the need for streets and the inevitability of potholes isn’t likely to diminish over the coming years.

Skakun is right! The pavement has a much shorter life span now! Something is wrong here! The lower section of Croft Road as an example is virtually beyond repair! Nobody in their right mind would try to put more patches over several layers of patches on top of other patches! Are we content with letting some of our roads (this one is a bus route!) deteriorate into third world conditions?

Maybe the city should hire a consultant from Florida or Saudi Arabia to help?

Give me a break Skakun has been on council for how long and he just noticed that standard operating procedure for the city is to build something and then let it run into the ground. Old police station, Massey stadium and the pool are prime examples.

Maybe one of the new councillors elbows Skakun in the ribs when his head starts bobbing during meetings…after all sleeping on the job is normal for a pulp worker of his vintage!

I went down when they paved Otway last fall and there were cracks in the new AC while it was still hot. Asked someone there and he told me the roller would take it out, it didn’t. How often do we see old cracks reappear within six months of an overlay. And then we micropave which looks great but cracks are back the next season.
Maybe some thought should be put into better cracksealing methods that are proven to work (not rubberized which we see laying beside the cracks!) Note that the majority of potholes are in the wheelpaths on existing cracks. Water gets in, base breaks down, potholes form.
It’s not rocket science.
Rather than repairing potholes, let’s try to prevent them first!

I can not understand why they have not repaved Croft road. The pavement on that road is a disgrace. Maybe they are waiting for a sewer line to break and they can charge everyone that lives on the street to repave it. They keep cheaping out by grinding the top few inches off from the pavement leaving all the cracks in the base.

I should also mention the streets in Hart Highlands are also a disgrace and nothing has been done to them for 45 yrs. Now they want the homeowner to pay for repaving.

The 50 million a year we pay in salaries to the city employees is not sustainable either. But Skakun’s pretty quiet when it comes to that elephant.

Skakun loves the media..he doesn’t do much on council, never has. after so many years on council he now realizes how bad the roads are..lol. But I am sure he is enjoying that raise he voted in for himself.

Axman any employee ive dealt with takes pride in their work. Many could make better money in the private sector but choose not to. Good or bad management of projects and/or funding allocation is not the employees responsiblity. It sounds like your responsibility is to try and get the public to dislike the employees, you must be proud.

Skakun was (so far) the only one who questioned doing the same flawed things over and over again the same way and expecting a different result. Perhaps we should be glad that he has some uncommon courage.

And i believe the employees are paid by the hour and management is salary…fyi.

Something is wrong with the mix that our crews are using. It doesn’t last as long as it did years back. Are they using a cheaper mix? Or doing shoddier work? We need some answers here because we can’t afford to pave the same patches over and over. Who’s benefitting from this? Suppliers should have to guarantee their mix to a certain degree. I saw on an American news channel that some cities there require guarantees from the companies that repair their roads. If they fail, they repave on their dime.

Would be nice if the large hole on the approach to the Cameron Street Bridge was filled, it’s right down to the steel girder and it’s been like that for 2 years. Also that large dog patch on first avenue that encompasses a full lane and causes people to have to swerve into oncoming traffic is getting to be beyond ridiculous. Going on two years for that one.

About ten years ago a small pavement company in town (Cneter City Pavement) had their assets for sale for I think it was a million dollars. It included a mobile I don’t know what its called but a its the machine that mixes the hot pavement.

I think the city should by its own hot pavement machine if they can get a used one for cheep… incorporate it as a city owned enterprise and let it continue to work, but having city work as its priority… then in winter months fire it up and fix pot hole properly when ever the weather gives us a break and if need be make it available for other northern cities to rent crew and equipment on a as needed basis as well.

I think it would cost up front to acquire a company like this, but the company should be able to pay for itself, maybe even cover the costs for the cities pot hole repairs on an ongoing basis… and then we get a good quality finished product and at a subsidized lower rate.

What ever happened to that little girl’s idea for putting used plastic into the mix? A test of it was put off time and time again and then sort of forgotten about. This would be a good time to try out some new ideas. The old ones clearly aren’t working.
The new city streets manager has a chance to shine a bit here.

Also, if the city could get a large area paved thinly, cut into about two foot squares and then lifted and stockpiled, they could have adequate hot mix available for winter patching. The idea of having it melted down in the patch trucks doesn’t work efficiently. Put it into a hot mixer, so all the patching trucks have to do is come and load up, not sit for eight hours melting the stuff.
A small mixer like this would be the place to try out all kinds of new additives as well.
It could be a research project for a UNBC civil engineering course.

Or consult other places who don’t seem to have the same problems, to find out their formulas and methods.

Krusty shorts, you know squat about asphalt. Why flap your gums?

I think some people including City Council may have forgotten that the weather these past few years is a lot different from a few decades ago. I remember growing up where there was a lot more 20 to 30 below days vs days around +1 days. So if a person looked at the number of “real winter days” vs the “freeze/thaw” days that we seem to get a lot of now they would see the conditions are much different.

Whenever the topic gets around to pavement commenters they talk about water, ice and heavy trucks being a
bad combination for pavement. I think these past few years we have seen that lethal combination more days than not. This is likely the reason for the increased potholes.

Oh and let’s not forget that this city did spend a lot more on paving last year……but that was a one year situation. Just because you spend the right amount of money in one year doesn’t fix all the previous years where the funding was inadequate…..!!!!

Just look off the beaten path…..PG still has a lot of broken down roads.

Axman’s right when it comes to sustaining the salaries of City Managers and Employee’s.

We need to take Alberta’s lead and start to do some serious controlling of all costs in the City.

Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2015 @ 9:27 PM by sqrlly

Axman any employee ive dealt with takes pride in their work. Many could make better money in the private sector but choose not to. Good or bad management of projects and/or funding allocation is not the employees responsiblity. It sounds like your responsibility is to try and get the public to dislike the employees, you must be proud.


Pride in what little work they do is not the issue. 50 million dollars a year in wages for a city of almost 80,000 people and shrinking is not sustainable.

Driving south along Tyner yesterday and looking at the broken right edge for the entire stretch – makes me think that the actual road bed is flawed and was from the beginning. 3/4 of the road is solid and that one edge is ALWAYS fractured and broken. That isn’t a problem at the surface that is down below.

Our city’s paving system is based on skimming off an inch or so, and laying down a new top coat – on roads that are damaged well below that 1 inch depth this is the proverbial lipstick on a pig syndrome.

Frankly I think we are wasting great amounts of money doing this when we need to actually work on repairing the road bed instead. Then it will last at least a few more years.

Have an actual day set for large fines to be issued for any vehicle leaking oil gas or diesel. And put road check in place by the police at the weigh scales and direct any vehicle which might be doing this for inspections. It will not take long to eliminate this as the culprit.

We need to visit the idea of changing the design mix which can deal more with the Freeze Thaw cycles. You can’t tell me it can not be done! MoTH don’t have potholes like that on the highways!

Like mentioned above, Potholes shows up on the surface, but it also has issues on the base which the asphalt sits on.

The Austin Road – 97N intersection is STILL a suspension busting disaster, even after a couple of very rough patching up jobs! Does anybody know who is supposed to look after it?

Let’s face it, the city doesn’t have the cash to do what needs to be done. I think we need to look at a fuel tax to pay for these road upgrades and get it done once and for all, especially if we are looking at lower oil prices for the next 2 years. And a fuel tax would hurt me personally, because I live out of town and use the roads a lot – so I don’t mind paying. On the other hand, there are lots of seniors in this town paying taxes for roads they hardly ever use -so – I say, let the user (me) pay.

The mix design used by the city is the same mix design used by the Ministry of Highways. The asphalt oil is more pliable than asphalt oil used down south. The softer oil is used to compensate for the heaving and expansion caused by the freeze thaw cycles experienced in our extreme winters. If a harder oil was used the pothole population would be exponentially greater because the asphalt would be more brittle. The asphalt being placed is monitored to ensure it is going down at the proper temperature and testing of the asphalt mix is done on a regular basis to ensure that it meets or exceeds the MMCD standards. Core samples are taken at random locations to ensure that the thickness of asphalt being placed is as per specs and these core samples are further tested to ensure that they meet the stringent specifications demanded…and they are stringent. As for cracking – there is no stretch of asphalt in the north that is free from cracking as mother earth is stronger than any asphalt mix design. A cracks form for a reason – the earth below is constantly moving, expanding, sinking, shifting, heaving, etc. When you pave over a crack – the crack will return because, as I said, it is there for a reason. There is no answer that will solve or eliminate cracking. Highways are excavate or built up by as much as 6 feet and they still crack. Find the solution and you and your heirs will be billionaires for ever. Hot mix asphalt plants can not operate during our winter months. They freeze up and the cost of heating the asphalt would far out weight any perceived savings or perceived benefit to winter paving. One thing you folks are right about is that the more base work that is done prior to paving the longer the asphalt will last. If the base doesn’t move – neither will the asphalt. As for cutting out pot holes to fix them verses filling them – it’s the very best solution – but for pothole repairs – it is about five time more costly – but it will last ten times longer. It’s a pay for it now or pay for it later scenario. It is a costly upfront venture that will pay off in the future. ..and one more thing….I am fan of Skakun…but he knows dick about asphalt…but he doesn’t have to. Just asking the questions is enough…

Maybe they need to cut a relief in the pavement every 200 ft or so and install a sealproof expandable joint so no water can get under the pavement. As I have said before if any water gets under the pavement you will have a hydraulic action with the water every time a vehicle passes over the crack. The hydraulic action will blow out the pavement.

oldman1: 200 feet is ‘way too much. Asphalt cracks every twenty to fifty feet naturally, with the cold contraction.

I had a civil engineer tell me one time, that compared to highways, the city’s road base building standards are just laughable. They are just about the lowest you can go. There’s a big part of the problem.

Give more- I would agree with you on distance of 200 ft. That was just a number I threw out there and I know road base is important. If you notice on the highways they are grinding away the travelled area and repaving the travelled area and not doing anything to the road shoulders that are breaking up.

The municipal standards for road base preparation has been greatly improved upon over the past few decades but are still not at the same standard as that of a provincial highway. City streets are not designed to transport the higher volumes and variety of vehicle traffic that you would find on a provincial highway. This is why load restrictions are in place every spring on municipal and regional roads connecting to provincial highways. The base structure of these roads, because of decreased standard for off highway infrastructure, will not support heavy traffic in the spring thaw.

As for milling of the main highway and not the paved shoulders – the MOT wants to put money into repair and sustainability of the traveled portion of the roadway. Any money they put towards milling and paving of the shoulders is money taken away from laneway repairs. However, they spend a great deal maintaining the shouldering material to ensure that the roadways are not allow to slough off into the ditches. It is an ongoing balancing act that is motivated by necessity – not desire.

Hot lay and cold patch

Hot lay hardens as it cools and becomes stronger and doesn’t move once set.

Cold patch is always moving, it never really sets up and therefore is only use for short term patch jobs until hot lay can be used for a more permanent repair.

Keep in mind the way pot holes are filled in the city and you will see a parallel with the number of pot holes in relation to how many times they are filled and re-filled and so on. They don’t prep the pot hole correctly to have the cold lay fill the void properly.

FYI: hot lay and cold lay are both heated asphalt, hot lay is applied at a much higher temperature than cold lay is.

Get back to basics and quit paving…good gravel roads can be smoothed out with a grader, and would be very sustainable by drastically reducing the patching/paving cost of asphalt. The fact is the asphalt paving cannot handle the pounding of vehicles and concrete may last longer.

Management is a big problem. Do They train the patchiong crews.First off are they still tamping the fill with a shovel as I have seen them. Do they dry out the hole with a torch. Do they seal the perimeter of the hole before filling the it and using a tamper to pack it down after placing the asphalt.

Interesting theory…somehow I don’t think the insurance companies would be able to keep up with the glass claims!
Or perhaps we could go one giant step further and really get back to basics.
Along with those gravel roads why not go back to Horse and Buggy??
Now that would be sustainable!

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