A truck drives toward a large pothole on Bowen Road in Nanaimo. (NICHOLAS PESCOD/The News Bulletin)

A truck drives toward a large pothole on Bowen Road in Nanaimo. (NICHOLAS PESCOD/The News Bulletin)

Highway potholes throughout Nanaimo slated for spring fix

Harsh winter in Nanaimo area led to damage to local roads

The age of the old Island Highway didn’t help it this winter, but a fix could be on the way next month for a stretch pockmarked with potholes.

Emcon Services has put temporary patches on potholes that have opened up on area highways, but for one of the hardest hit areas –the Highway 19A stretch from Northfield Road to Woodgrove – a more permanent grind-and-pave repair will come this April.

Road surfaces break down when moisture works its way through cracks in asphalt, freezes and expands, further splitting the blacktop. When traffic runs over the surface, the pavement disintegrates.

This year has been busy for patching potholes with an extended winter, frost damage and the general age of infrastructure, which is old and needs repaving, according to Rob Heaslip, road superintendent for Emcon. The worst is Highway 19A through Nanaimo, between Departure Bay and Northfield Road, he said, adding the highway has been in planning stages for repaving for the last number of years, but unfortunately hasn’t been resurfaced because of things like budget.

“The pavement gets to a certain age and basically it’s deteriorating very rapidly and with a rough winter like we’ve just experienced it accelerates it,” said Heaslip, who told the News Bulletin the grind and pave, as soon as temperatures warm, will fix the worst of the worst.

David Myles, city manager of roads and traffic services, said some of the older roads suffered worse than others and the old Island Highway was hit hard. Sections of Uplands Drive also didn’t fare well this winter.

And those potholes aren’t easy on cars.

Don Goldsbury, manager and owner of Midas Island Highway North, said potholes can do suspension damage, as well as damage to struts, shocks, control arms, rims, tires and alignment. One good jolt can throw an alignment out, he said, adding a good indication something is either worn, damaged or out of alignment is if the steering wheel is off to one side.

“If we could check every car that came in the shop for a wheel alignment, 99 per cent of them are out. My guess is it is from pothole damage,” he said. “I drive a one-ton truck and some of these in town here, man oh man, it jolts my truck; you can imagine a little car.”

Myles said he appreciates the public’s patience with potholes and the city is getting on them as soon as it can.

It’s not known the affect of this season’s pothole repair on the city’s budget. The city asks people to report potholes on local roads by calling 250-758-5222 and on highways to Emcon at 1-866-353-3136.

-files from Chris Bush/The News Bulletin