Everybody in Edmonton, it seems, is complaining about potholes.
This is a yearly phenomenon in Edmonton that arrives as surely as the first snows of October, and the last snows of April … or May. It’s all part of the rich fabric of life that is being an Edmontonian.
Up until today, I thought all the griping was just typical Edmonton bitchiness. I mean, potholes are a universal problem. And if you think we have it bad, check out the Winnipeg Free Press “pothole cam” of one particularly bad street. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/multimedia/video/local/pothole-cam-highlight-reel-200280681.html
Even after last week, when my son got a flat tire and lost a hubcap on a particularly cavernous pothole — driving MY car — I wasn’t convinced that this year was any worse than any other.
But today, in my brief drives around town, I have to agree with my fellow Edmontonians — our roads are a disgrace to a so-called ‘major’ city.
There are streets in this city — heavily used, major arteries — that are perilously close to being unnavigable. A prime example is 112th Avenue, which sees thousands of vehicles a day, which is more rut than road. Parts of 69th Avenue are nearing collapse. There’s a pothole in a road near my son’s house that has gone beyond being a mere hole to being a chasm.
I would hate to be squiring a visitor around Edmonton today; it’s actually embarrassing.
City officials and apologists offer up the same explanations: Edmonton is a northern city, we have freeze-and-thaw cycles, our ground is sandy, blah blah blah. Well, sorry, I don’t buy it anymore.
I think it’s time Edmonton commissioned an outside consultant to conduct a comprehensive, from the ground up review of how we build our roads. Do we have the right approach? Are we using the right building materials? Is there anything that we should be doing that we aren’t doing? Are we using cutting edge technologies (if there are cutting edge technologies) in road building? Can we spend more money on roads that last longer? Are we better off, or worse off, than other similar cities? Maybe it’s time we took some of the millions we spend on massive construction projects every summer and just turned that money over to rebuilding some of our decaying roads.
I hate to sound like one of those old goats who write letters to the editor or gripe on open line radio, but we should not contemplate spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a shiny new hockey arena if we can’t even keep our roads in passable shape.