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Temperature swings 'wreak havoc' on Windsor streets as complaints about potholes roll in

A massive pothole in Windsor. More than 400 pothole complaints have been made to 311 in January alone. (Michael Evans/CBC - image credit)
A massive pothole in Windsor. More than 400 pothole complaints have been made to 311 in January alone. (Michael Evans/CBC - image credit)

There have been hundreds of complaints to the city regarding potholes on Windsor streets already this year. It's a problem being exasperated by the fluctuations we've been seeing between warmer and colder weather according to the city's maintenance coordinator.

"Whenever we get these up and down temperatures, it really wreaks havoc on our roads because you get that freeze-thaw day in and day out," Harrison said. "So anything we patch is likely to come out again because it's going through that freeze-thaw cycle again."

Paul Finlayson inspecting the repairs made to his damaged car. He had to pay $350 out of pocket to replace two tires due to damage caused by a pothole.
Paul Finlayson inspecting the repairs made to his damaged car. He had to pay $350 out of pocket to replace two tires due to damage caused by a pothole.

Paul Finlayson inspecting the repairs made to his damaged car. He had to pay $350 out of pocket to replace two tires due to damage caused by a pothole. (Michael Evans/CBC)

Last year, the chilly winter temperatures stayed consistent, so many potholes only started appearing during the spring thaw according to Roberta Harrison, the City of Windsor's maintenance coordinator.

This year, there have already been 413 complaints about potholes to 311 according to the City of Windsor's Open Data Catalogue.

At least one of those complaints came from Paul Finlayson. His car was damaged by a pothole while he was driving along Ojibway Pkwy.

"I hit a pothole which I couldn't see because it was covered with water," he said on Monday. "So we actually wrecked the tire and we've had to order two new tires for it."

Now, he's out $350 for the damage.

Roberta Harrison is the maintenance coordinator for the City of Windsor. She says wildly fluctuating temperatures are causing potholes to appear more often.
Roberta Harrison is the maintenance coordinator for the City of Windsor. She says wildly fluctuating temperatures are causing potholes to appear more often.

Roberta Harrison is the maintenance coordinator for the City of Windsor. She says wildly fluctuating temperatures are causing potholes to appear more often. (Michael Evans/CBC)

Harrison says city staff is working as hard as they can to fill the holes and clear the roads, which saw a fresh layer of snow accumulate on Tuesday.

"We [have] often shifted gears in the last two weeks," Harrison said. "One day [there's] snow, the next day [we do] pothole patching. Our staff does both duties, so it is hard for us to keep the patch crews going when we have to do snow removal at the same time."

Despite the city's best efforts to repair the potholes, Finlayson says he isn't taking the damage to his car lying down. In the hopes of getting the city to reimburse him, Finlayson has filed a damage claim with the city.

He also reported the hole in the road that damaged his car. But when he first called 311 last week, he was told it would take city staff up to five business days to respond.

Paul Finlayson looking at a pothole in Windsor. He has filed a damage claim with the City of Windsor in the hopes of being reimbursed for damage to his car caused by a pothole.
Paul Finlayson looking at a pothole in Windsor. He has filed a damage claim with the City of Windsor in the hopes of being reimbursed for damage to his car caused by a pothole.

Paul Finlayson looking at a pothole in Windsor. He has filed a damage claim with the City of Windsor in the hopes of being reimbursed for damage to his car caused by a pothole. (Michael Evans/CBC)

"I called again today and they said that they had a previous complaint and that somebody had come out and looked at it supposedly and done something," said Finlayson on Monday. "But it doesn't look like anything's been done here."

Harrison says the city gets multiple requests for the same stretch of road on occasion, which allows them to organize their crews "so we're not driving all over the city."

"We can go directly to the potholes that you've called in about," she said.

For anyone who finds themselves in the same situation as Finlayson, the city suggests drivers contact their insurer to see if they can seek compensation from the city on their behalf.

Two to three damaged cars a week from potholes: mechanic

The owner of an auto repair shop in Walkerville said due to the number of potholes, they have been fixing an average of two to three cars every week since the start of the year that have been damaged by potholes.

Justin Lapointe, who owns Justin's Auto Repair, says costs depend on what part of the car is damaged.

"A rim and a tire could easily cost $500," he said. "If you're talking suspension, it could be around the same price."

But damage to a car's suspension comes with a caveat.

Justin Lapointe, owner of Justin's Auto Repair, holding two struts, one of which is bent by a pothole, that were removed from a car. He says since the start of the year, his repair shop has seen an average of two to three cars needing repairs due to potholes.
Justin Lapointe, owner of Justin's Auto Repair, holding two struts, one of which is bent by a pothole, that were removed from a car. He says since the start of the year, his repair shop has seen an average of two to three cars needing repairs due to potholes.

Justin Lapointe, owner of Justin's Auto Repair, holding two struts, one of which is bent by a pothole, that were removed from a car. He says since the start of the year, his repair shop has seen an average of two to three cars needing repairs due to potholes. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

"For safety reasons, when you change one strut on a car, you have to change the other side because they evenly wear," Lapointe said. "So now, we're putting two struts on the car."

Lapointe said there was a car that was brought in with that same suspension issue and the final bill came to about $1,500.

And while Ontario drivers are legally required to have car insurance before hitting the road, Lapointe says people still tend to pay out of pocket.

"They would cover it," he says of many car insurance policies. "But if you're talking about a $500 repair, someone's deductible may be from $500 to $1,000. It doesn't make sense going through insurance because now, you have a hit against your insurance, plus you have to pay the deductible anyway."