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It appears they are fighting a losing battle but the City of Estevan says it is doing its best to handle the numerous potholes plaguing roads throughout the city.
A winter of extreme cold and rapid thaws has left roads in Estevan in horrible shape, causing headaches for drivers. City manager and acting public works manager Jim Puffalt said there is a crew applying cold asphalt to potholes but admitted that is simply a Band-Aid solution until the weather improves.
"Since the streets cleared off, we've had a crew filling in the potholes but the problem is that you can't fix them properly until they are dried out and we have hot (asphalt)," said Puffalt.
"We are trying to provide a better driving surface for people but it actually seems a lot worse this year and it is probably because of the (high) water table. There is so much moisture out there but it seems worse than it has been in previous years."
Puffalt said there have been a number of calls made to city hall with many upset about the volume of potholes while others feel they should stop wasting money by applying the cold asphalt.
"Part of the problem is you fill them in and they last for three or four days so we have had some people say 'quit, you are just wasting money' but we need to provide a driving surface as best we can."
Much to the dismay of drivers, there is a good possibility the situation will get worse before it gets better. The City's asphalt provider, Souris Valley Paving traditionally doesn't fire up its asphalt plant in early May.
As bad as the roads are right now, Puffalt was quick to point out the situation could have been even worse had the City not undertaken its watermain replacement program that has led to 65 blocks being resurfaced throughout Estevan.
"Thank goodness we started the program eight years ago to replace the streets," said Puffalt. "If there is anything that is our best plan against potholes, it is to fix the roads. Get the subbase properly done and seal up the roads and the potholes aren't created. It's a subbase failure or there is moisture getting into the roads and causing problems. The stuff we have done is holding up well, it's just there was a long time period where streets weren't looked after."
The watermain replacement program will continue again this year which means a handful of streets will eventually be repaved. They are also working with the provincial government's Urban Connector Program to receive money for City streets that are part of Highway 47.
"We also want to do King Street, the section from Kohaly to Woodlawn Avenue because there are no watermains under that street and it is unravelling really bad so we are going to have to do something quick or we are going to lose it altogether," said Puffalt.
"We want to do that part of (King) and I think next year we will probably be back on King Street doing from 13th Avenue west into Pleasantdale. That street is in really poor shape. There are lots of poor roads and we are doing what we can."
Of course the City's best laid plans could all come apart at the seams if the weather doesn't co-operate much like last year when the near record rainfall caused all manner of headaches. Puffalt said that is an obvious concern but one that is also out of their control.
"We tell our people all the time, we can control our work, we can control when we get our designs done and our tenders out. All we can control is what we control and go from there."