Have you noticed the number of ruts and potholes we have in our roads?
That’s the question that’s on Don Malcolm’s mind.
"It’s not just in Duncan. It’s all over. Everywhere you go around here. My question is: why? I’ve been in the repair business all my life. If you want to fix something, the best way to do it is to do it right the first time.
"But, what I’ve been seeing is, there’s a rut and the next time you come back it’s a hill and you’ve got to bounce in and out of it to get by. It just gets worse," he said.
"The problem is they’re not fixing them correctly. You see them arrive at the hole and they’ve got a box of this junk and they tamp it down. The hole could be full of water and they’re putting it down. Right in front of my house, they did a hole four times."
He’s had personal experience of the problems that unrepaired roads can cause.
"I bought a one-ton truck.
It was almost brand new, a diesel dually. I went up the hill and there was a big hole in the road and I hit it. Bang! And there was a heck of a smash on the left hand side of my truck. A month later I was in the United States driving and the front of my truck all came apart and I totaled a Chrysler car. It just broke off the truck; I’ve got all the parts still sitting there in my garage. The cause and effect of these roads being bad must be costing us all millions in insurance claims."
He also agreed that driving on rainy nights when sharpedged potholes get filled with water so that drivers unfamiliar with the area drive right into them is a real problem in many places.
"What’s the cause and effect of all this? If it’s on the Trans Canada Highway, it’s provincial so there would be the budget for it. If they can afford to fix something three and four times, they can afford to fix it right."
Rick Gill, South Island Manager for Mainroad, the contractor that handles highway maintenance here for the province, said it can seem like highways repair crews are often going back to the same spot.
"Our guys will even say, ‘Weren’t we just up there?’ We don’t like going back either. But often it’s just beside the place they’ve fixed before."
Part of the problem with potholes is that it can be "very difficult to keep a product in them," he said, explaining that sometimes some pavement is just "aging out."
Difficulties can arise because of freeze and thaw, or moisture in the pothole itself but the product Mainroad uses, called EZ Street (a high performance polymermodified cold mix asphalt), has proven itself over and over again.
"We use it everywhere," Gill said. "It will last when the pavement around it breaks down."
However, there are areas, such as the southbound lane of the Trans Canada Highway between Fisher Road and Mill Bay that seem to defy nearly every effort in the fight against potholes.
"We’ve even tried grinding it down there," he said.