Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday February 17, 2018
It’s potholes vs. buses this winter in Hamilton, and potholes are winning
Best winter … E-V-E-R … if you’re a Hamilton pothole, in which case you practically own the city this season, or its curb lanes at the very least.
Worst winter ever, if you happen to be a ball joint or some other part of an automobile steering and suspension system; or if you’re a driver relying on such parts to cushion the half-foot drops into craters so big they should have their own bike lanes.
Roads crews in Hamilton are responding with “all hands on deck” as they attempt to repair damage to the road in several priority areas across the city, day and night, filling literally hundreds of potholes with tons of asphalt, said the city’s public works department on Wednesday.
Even the bus drivers won’t drive some stretches of Hamilton road, so pockmarked are they, especially one of the city’s busiest streets, Main West, by the McMaster hospital. Earlier this week they launched a workplace refusal, unwilling to service some stops on Main West, instead posting notices at those stops and detouring around them, says Eric Tuck, president Local 107, Amalgamated Transit Union.
Worst ever for potholes?
“Anecdotal,” says Dan McKinnon. “But, yeah, it’s the worst I’ve seen.” And he’s seen a lot. Dan’s been general manager of Hamilton Public Works for a year and a half but before that spent decades on the roads with the department.
That’s why “we’re out there, day and night,” says Dan, of his public works teams, “on pothole duty.” Every unit, unless an emergency pulls them off. He’s not even sure how many workers he’s got on it because, beside city staff, he’s called in contract workers to help.
“I think it’s a few things,” says Dan. “There’s the freeze-thaw cycle but we get that every year. Twenty years ago we’d get it a couple of times a winter but lately it’s happening five to six times a winter. The frequency of the cycle has increased.
“And my personal theory is that the really bad winter we had in 2014-2015, with extraordinary cold, did damage that is just manifesting now.” (Source: Jeff Mahoney, Hamilton Spectator)