PWES Winter & Spring Operations




Key facts:

  • The City of Ottawa fills around 250,000 potholes per year.
  • IMG_1021Potholes 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, report it online at ottawa.ca or by calling 3-1-1.

Potholes are a result of the freeze/thaw weather cycles that deteriorate our road surfaces. During the freeze/thaw, water seeps into the crevices of the road. Fluctuations in temperature, vibrations and traffic volumes all create stress on the asphalt road surface, which can result in potholes.

This is explained in a video on the City’s YouTube channel.