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‘It’s like a minefield’: Northern Ont. drivers frustrated with potholes as thousands appear on roads


Just take a drive up and down Premier Road in North Bay and you will be able to tell the south end street has quite a pothole problem.

The road was voted as the 12th worst Ontario road in a previous Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) worst roads survey.

"I've been on this road for 20 years now and this time of the year always has been for lack of a better terms ups and downs,” said resident Tom Diggles.

From little holes to wide, gaping holes, potholes are not new for those who need to take the road to and from home, or to get the mail.

"Oh it's like a minefield. You're dodging and you don't know which way to go, left or right,” said driver Elaine Tormasy.

“You're always dodging."

With spring comes pothole season. It can be a bumpy ride for drivers as crews scramble to fix the roads and fill the pesky potholes temporarily fixing as many as they can.

North Bay Public Works crews were on Northshore Road sweeping holes clean and filling them with a cold mix patching. It’s a temporary fix until summer when the crews will use their portable asphalt plant to make longer-term hot mix repairs.

North Bay Public Works crews were on Northshore Road sweeping holes clean and filling them with a cold mix patching on Friday. (Eric Taschner/CTV News Northern Ontario)

"Come summer time we do a more much permanent repair,” said David Pledge, a charge hand with the city’s road department.

“But in the meantime, there's a thaw and a freeze we have to have something to temporarily fix it.”

Potholes become much more prevalent in the spring due to the freeze-thaw cycle. Water seeps into road cracks in the pavement.

Temperatures drop and the water in the soil freezes and expands, pushing up the asphalt. The constant traffic load breaks the asphalt causing surface holes. Further traffic load and weather conditions continue to cause the granular base to erode leaving potholes.

Potholes can cause some significant damage to your car.

Officials said the most common types of damage are loss of a hubcap, a damaged tire, a bent or broken wheel, wheels knocked out of alignment, damaged suspension components, bent steering parts and damaged shock absorbers. This damage can often ‘cost a pretty penny.’

"Based on our estimates, we've heard anywhere from $300 to $6,000 of repairs due to potholes and I know every year they we hear this is the worst year,” said CAA’s Senior Director of Public Affairs, Kristine D’Arbelles.

“I really feel this year, they are the worst."

CAA said the best thing to do when approaching a pothole is safely maneuver around it if you can. If that's not possible, take your foot off the gas or brake pedal and gently coast over the hole.

"If you start braking or pushing on the gas then you're also creating a front and back movement which will also happen as the same time as the up and down and that can wreak a lot of havoc on your vehicle," said D’Arbelles.

The City of North Bay does have a claims process for vehicle damage from potholes. However, very few claims have ever been processed.

The city says that when making a claim against it for pothole damage, it's important to note that it will not be responsible for damage if it has met the provincial ‘Minimum Maintenance Standards of Ontario’ (MMS).

The MMS is comprised of a series of standards for various aspects of road maintenance (patrolling, salting, clearing snow and pothole repair) which vary, depending on the speed limit and traffic volume on a particular roadway in accordance with these standards:

  • Potholes in higher speed roads and high-volume roads are repaired more quickly than ones on side streets
  • On main (arterial) roads, the City strives to repair potholes within four days from the date they are reported
  • On secondary collector roads, the City has seven days to repair potholes
  • On side streets, the City has 30 days to repair potholes

Crews are asking drivers to report a pothole to Public Works so they can get out and repair it.

Until then, CAA officials said it's all about dodging them until they are repaired.

"They keep coming back like a bad blister,” chuckled Tormasy.

The CAA is launching its annual worst roads survey of Ontario’s most damaged and unsafe roads where the public can vote on the worst roads in their area. The results are collated, assessed by a team of experts at the Ontario Road Builders Association (ORBA) and shared with municipal and provincial leaders.

In a recent CAA member survey, Ontarians’ most common complaint about potholes.

In 2022, for the northern Ontario region Algonquin Boulevard East in Timmins earned the worst honours with Lansing Ave, Paris Street and Fielding Road in Greater Sudbury making up three of the remaining top five.

The full results and ‘winners’ in Ontario from CAA’s 2022 Worst Road campaign can be found here Top Stories

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