Yellowknife road conditions holding up
Potholes appearing but not abundant

by Derek Neary
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 08/98) - For the most part, road conditions in Yellowknife this spring are not as bad as usual, according to a pair of garage managers and the manager of Public Works.

City drivers will inevitably hit a pothole or two, or run into a pool of water on occasion, but veterans say things have been known to be much worse.

"Is it worse this year than previous years? In my current opinion, no," said Barry Walsh, manager of Autotec. "We don't have as much water on the road. There are some spots that are still atrocious, but based on previous years here, no, it's not bad."

Lorie Simmons, manager of Grizzly Tire, agreed.

"Compared to last year, I wouldn't say they're any worse," she said.

Neither garage has yet to see the usual increase in front-end work that normally accompanies spring. Walsh said the only appointments he can attribute directly to the road are those with rocks lodged in brakes causing squealing and a periodic flat tire from the gravel.

Adrian Bader, manager of Yellowknife's public works department, said the spring melt is going well.

"So far our people have been able to keep up with thawing out catch-basins and things like that," he said.

The number of washboards, or pock-marked roads, have been reduced by the paving that took place last year, added Bader.

And the potholes?

"It might just be the luck of the draw on that one," Bader said, laughing. "Sometimes they develop in the spring, sometimes they don't."

Freeze-thaw cycles are responsible for the pockets in the pavement. So there may be more to come, Bader acknowledged.

He said public works employees generally fill the potholes based on the number of complaints received and by locating the odd crater while out driving around.

Due to Northern permafrost, Bader said conditions here are more problematic than those in the south.

"We have a lot more maintenance on our roads. We have a lot more drainage problems, things like that," he explained. "That's just the nature of the land that we live on here."

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