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Pothole repair season is heating up

When temperatures rise, road crews can begin repairing potholes with hot asphalt. On a priority system, crews have been filling potholes around the city since mid-April and will continue to do so until next winter.  

How are potholes formed? 

In Canada, we often see winter temperatures fluctuating greatly. Lethbridge chinooks bring drastic freeze and thaw cycles; sometimes temperatures change by 20 degrees Celsius (or more) in only a few days. Weather changes contribute to pothole formation:  

  • When temperatures rise, and snow and ice melts, water fills the cracks in road surfaces.   
  • The water in the road surface will freeze when temperatures drop again, expand, and break down the asphalt.  
  • Potholes are formed as vehicles ride over the damaged areas and further loosen material.  

When spring arrives, we see areas of our roadways that have been severely damaged with large and sometimes, unavoidable potholes. Typically, the more weather fluctuations we see over winter, the more potholes form on our streets.  

How do crews repair the roads? 

Road maintenance involves a variety of activities to keep our city roadways in reasonable condition long into the future. Maintenance includes the annual overlay program, crack sealing, pothole patching and repairs and gravel and road maintenance. The overall road condition is measured with the paving quality index and roads that are in very bad condition will be scheduled for an overlay. Crack sealing and pothole patching is considered preventative maintenance to avoid more degradation of the road.  

Each winter, there is plenty of opportunity for potholes to form within our city. Permanent repair with hot asphalt cannot be done in freezing temperatures or with snow and ice in the damaged area. Potholes are temporarily filled in the colder months using different techniques to create an even driving surface. Each year as spring approaches, hot asphalt becomes available, and crews are readied for another round of pothole filling and road repair throughout the warmer months.  

How can the community assist with a smooth road-repair season? 

We encourage residents and drivers in Lethbridge to report potholes to 311. When a request is made, crews will visit the site and assign a priority to the damaged area. Potholes that are in the driving lanes of busy streets, and are likely to be hazardous, are the highest priority and are dealt with first (even in winter). Some potholes on side streets may take longer to fill because of their location on the road, or because traffic is typically slower and lighter in these areas.  

The residents and drivers can help by:  

  • Slowing down when driving around road repair crews – safe conditions for people is essential and supports efficient work; 
  • Report potholes to 311. Dangerous potholes should be reported right away;  
  • Drive with care around potholes. Drive around them if it is safe to do so. If you cannot avoid it approach the pothole slowly to reduce impact to your vehicle;  
  • Cycling lanes and boulevards can have potholes and road damage too. Cycle with care and report hazards when you see them. 

As road maintenance gets underway for the season, please ensure you slow down, pay attention to road signage and detours and drive safely around construction areas. 

For Public Inquiries: 

Call 311 | Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 


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