Facts on Potholes

With spring weather comes pothole season! I would like to take a moment to provide some information on what causes potholes and how they are managed by the City of Ottawa, courtesy of the City’s communications channels.

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Key facts:

  • The City of Ottawa fills around 250,000 potholes per year.
  • Potholes are caused by the constant freeze-thaw cycle in winter and spring.
  • On average, we experience around 68 freeze-thaw cycles per winter season.
  • Potholes are formed when snow and ice melts and seeps into cracks in the surface of the road, combined with the vibration of traffic over the cracks.
  • During peak pothole season in late winter and early spring, around 35 crews are out patching potholes each day.
  • The City of Ottawa maintains 6,000 km of roadway – the equivalent of a two-lane road from Halifax to Vancouver.

Operational approach:

  • City staff proactively monitor the state of the roads to determine which areas need attention.
  • Repairs are scheduled and carried out based on the severity of the pothole, traffic impact, and are based on a provincial minimum maintenance standard.
  • Crews clear the pothole of water and debris, fill it with hot asphalt, and compact it to create a tight bond with the surrounding pavement.
  • Patching potholes is a temporary fix designed to ensure the road is safe for cyclists and motorists until more permanent repairs can be done.
  • The City regularly tests new approaches, technology and best practices to find the most effective way to deal with potholes in Ottawa.

If you see a pothole, please report it online at ottawa.ca or by calling 3-1-1.