Transportation & Environment Services

Potholes 101

Potholes in Winter

Canadian winters create potholes through the regular freeze thaw cycle. As temperatures rise, the snow and ice melts and allows water to seep into small cracks in the asphalt. When temperatures drop again, the water then freezes and expands, which causes cracks in the asphalt to grow. This cycle and damage to roadways continues throughout the winter months.

The City of Saint John’s Winter Asphalt Maintenance Service provides emergency repair of street defects and potholes for roadway safety and winter driveability. Repair response is triggered by the City becoming aware of the pothole. Crews work hard to routinely monitor road conditions and ensure that hazards are attended to and repaired as quickly as reasonably possible.

As hot asphalt plants within New Brunswick are closed during the winter months, crews use cold-mix asphalt or recycled asphalt material.  This is not as durable as regular asphalt and is considered a temporary fix. City crews undertake an annual “pothole repair blitz” to provide a more permanent repair to potholes once the hot asphalt plants reopen for the season near the end of April or beginning of May.
Road Defect TypesRoad Defect Types

Report a problem pothole:

Citizens are encouraged to report potholes to the City. By doing so, a work order is generated to trigger an inspection of the identified area of concern. Based on a number of factors, including available resources, damage that could occur, size, location, traffic volume and street, the pothole is then prioritized and appropriately addressed. The greater the hazard, the more of a priority a pothole becomes. Not all potholes need to be, or can be, filled right away. Some are addressed in other ways, such as with a pylon or barricade.

You can report a pothole several ways:

  • Complete the Service Request Form (allows you to upload photos
    Click the image on the right of the webpage to access the application. 
  • Call Customer Service at 658-4455.
  • Email

Reporting a pothole helps us all.  It ensures the City has a record of the pothole so a work order can be issued and the pothole repaired according to our service objective timelines.  It also helps your fellow motorists to ensure the the safety of our roads and minimize damage to vehicles that can occur.

What if my vehicle has been damaged by a pothole?

The City receives a number of pothole claims year round, including the winter months. Claims are investigated by the City’s Insurance and Claims Division to determine liability.  There is always some responsibility and expectation that motorists will take care when driving, not exceed posted speed limits and adjust driving according to road conditions.

To learn more about Damage and Liability Claims, visit our Risk Management page.  There, you may submit an online incident report.

What is a pothole?

A pothole is damage to asphalt street surfaces caused by fluctuating temperature. In a thaw, water seeps through pavement into its sub base. When the water freezes and becomes ice, it expands and the pavement above it (and the ground below it) flexes.

As traffic drives over it, as the water continues its thaw freeze cycle, and the pavement continues to flex, the breaking capacity of the pavement weakens. Eventually the pavement weakens to the point where it pops out of the street, exposing the damage to the sub base.

Potholes cause problems for motorists and city maintenance crews during the spring as we experience the freeze thaw cycle more frequently. As the roads become bare, more cracks are exposed making pavement even more vulnerable.

What can you do?

  • Slow down
  • Avoid driving in puddles where possible
  • Report potholes
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Transportation and Environment
(506) 658-4455
175 Rothesay Avenue

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