Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) is the most northerly city in the Americas with a metropolitan population of more than one million people. So perhaps the fact that it has 600,000 potholes waiting to be fixed in the spring of 2013 should be no surprise.
But the City of Edmonton Roadway Maintenance Director, Bob Dunford, told the Edmonton CTV News that 2013 was extraordinary. “We never broke the 600,000 mark. We hit about 594,000 back in 2007, I think we’ll break that this year,” he said.
Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel told another news station (CBC News) in March that 2013 would need $12 million in the city budget to repair the potholes. “If you look at this winter – we’ve had freezing and thawing, freezing and thawing way more than any other year,” he said, adding “and we have had a little more snow than normal. It creates havoc. It’s a fact of life in our city.” The city council approved the extra $12 million budget in late March. Work on the potholes has been so taxing that spring street sweeping is off schedule by several weeks.
Despite a northern, plains location (53-degrees north, 113-degrees west), Edmonton has milder winters than geographically comparable Regina and Winnipeg to the south. Average daily low temperatures are 10.9 degrees F (-11.7 degrees C) and 63.5 degrees F (17.5 degrees C) in July. It is also fairly dry, with only an annual 18.8 inches (476.9 millimeters) of precipitation in rain and snow melt. Moisture is a major contributor to pavement deterioration, with and without freeze-thaw cycles.
The Edmonton city streets are largely on a grid system, as well as “off-grid” Yellowhead Trail (highway 16) Anthony Henday Drive and Whitemud Drive. The Yellowhead Highway is the main connection to Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. To the south, travelers take the Queen Elizabeth II Highway to reach Calgary and Fort Macleod.