North American roads suffer from dramatic thaws and freezes

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Monday, January 8, 2007

A pothole in Montréal, Canada last year.

Major city roads across North America are suffering from an early surge in potholes due to the dramatic freezes and thaws this month, some several feet across and inches deep. The potholes are caused by water seeping into cracks during warm weather, and pushing concrete apart when it freezes. Traffic erodes chunks of concrete from the cracks to form holes that continuously grow larger.

While car repair shops are experiencing a boom in business, city budgets are being hit with the costs of patching potholes. Thierry Larivée, an infrastructure spokesman in Montréal, Canada, says about 20 pothole patrols are working throughout the city. They are expected to continue work until at least Friday.

Craig Bryson, spokesman for the Road Commission for Oakland County in Michigan, United States, reports problems on unpaved roads as well. "The warmer weather is also playing havoc with gravel roads; the top layer of dirt thaws, but remains frozen about 10 inches below the surface. Surface water has no place to go. This creates a rutted, soupy road, especially in low-lying areas."

Environment Canada meteorologist René Héroux attributes the unseasonable thaw to warm winds from the southwest. Environment Canada predicts a new cold front on Thursday.


Sources

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