Update on Spring Road Maintenance Activities

Apr 10, 2019

As the weather warms, City staff and contractors shift gears from snow plowing and removal, ice blading and sanding/salting to begin cleaning up our road and drainage networks from the effects of the spring thaw.

 This year, a long, harsh winter resulted in the overlapping of spring and winter clean-up activities, and crews are now out in full force performing ditching, snow removal, and pothole patching. In the meantime, snow and other weather events can result in crews switching gears to perform snow plowing and sanding/salting activities, as needed.   

Once the snow has melted, street sweeping and line painting can begin. Here's a breakdown of our spring road cleaning schedule, including what happens, and when.

What are we doing now?
Ditching and Catch Basin ClearingNow that milder weather has arrived, crews are focused on opening catch basins and culverts to ensure proper drainage. This is done to reduce the chance of localized ponding on roadways and properties. Catch basins and culverts that have already been opened can refreeze with fluctuations in spring temperatures. The City prioritizes frozen or blocked catch basins and culverts based on risk to public safety and properties. 

You can help by clearing snow, ice and debris from your neighbourhood catch basin to provide a path for water to enter the storm drainage system. In most cases, blocked catch basins can be opened by chipping away ice buildup.

Pothole Patching

While pothole repairs happen throughout the year, spring freeze/thaw cycles increase the likelihood of potholes forming. At this time of year, anywhere from 10 to 15 crews are deployed across the City daily to patch potholes. 

Pothole repair is particularly challenging during the spring because the ground is not fully thawed, and a freeze/thaw cycle occurs with fluctuations in temperature. Until the ground is fully thawed and temperatures remain consistently above zero, cold mix asphalt is used to temporarily repair potholes.  
In the same way that you cannot pave a road in below zero temperatures, permanent pothole patching, which typically occurs from May to the end of October, is done when hot mix asphalt is available and warm temperatures are here to stay.We are using a variety of measures to address potholes. The City is currently completing large area patching, also called shave and pave, to address some of the more challenging pothole areas. This is done using warm asphalt mix shipped by the truckload from plants in southern Ontario. This is a more permanent solution that works better in colder temperatures. Our local asphalt plants do not begin production of warm/hot mix until May or June, depending on weather. 

Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNinCJg2CBA for more information about how potholes form and how they are repaired.
What’s next?

Street Sweeping and Line PaintingOnce the majority of the snow has melted and the weather is consistently mild, the City begins sweeping sand from roads and sidewalks. The City's street sweeping program generally begins in late April and runs through to mid-June, but can change depending on the melting of snow and ice. Most sidewalk, main road and downtown Sudbury sweeping is done first. The vast majority of roads, especially in residential areas, are done later as there is typically more ice and snow that needs to melt before street sweeping can occur.   

Once our roads and sidewalks are cleaned of sand, crews begin line painting. This usually begins in mid-May on roads that have already been swept. Line painting continues throughout the spring, summer and fall. Stay tuned for more information on street sweeping and line painting nearer to the start of these activities. 

Annual budget breakdown:

$1.9 million: Opening culverts and ditches

Sidewalk and street sweeping, and catch basin/manhole cleaning

$3.3 million: Pothole repair and patching

$670,000: Line painting 

Did you know?

  • Our city is large! Greater Sudbury is made up of 3,560 lane kilometres of roadway. That's the distance of a one-lane road from here to the Mexico border.
  • The City of Greater Sudbury has 8,700 catch basins and 2,500 kilometres of ditches• Approximately 50,000 to 65,000 potholes are patched annually.
  • The Roads section of the Linear Infrastructure Services division is responsible for the maintenance of our roads and drainage systems all year round.  In the winter staff can be found driving snow plows or operating graders and loaders to clear snow. In the spring their duties shift to filling potholes, steaming culverts and digging out catch basins. In the summer and fall they are painting lines on our roadways, and ditching and replacing road culverts to improve drainage. 

For more information on City road maintenance operations, visit www.greatersudbury.ca/roads. To report a public works issue, such as road ponding or a pothole location, call 311.