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FAQ: Potholes

Here are some answeres to frequently asked questions about potholes.

What is a pothole?

A pothole is a shallow pit or depression produced in a roadway surface by the effects of wear-and-tear and weather. 

Why do potholes happen?

Potholes are created when water trickles and seeps through cracks in the asphalt that have developed over time as a result of heat and the constant pounding of vehicular traffic. As that moisture freezes and expands in the subgrade, sections of the pavement are loosened; when it melts and contracts, it leaves a void. This typically happens in spring with its freeze-and-thaw cycles.

Traffic then exacerbates the problem. As vehicles travel over this weakened section of roadway, the pavement surface breaks and pieces of asphalt are forced out, collapsing and leaving a pothole. The hole gets bigger as cars and trucks roll over it.

Most potholes develop in pavement that has seen some wear and tear – generally six to 12 years old and beyond. They can grow quite wide but usually only become a few centimetres deep. They are often round but pretty much come in a variety of shapes. Obviously, high-traffic roads tend to have the most potholes.

How you fix potholes?

Pothole repair is an important part of Public Operations’ ongoing efforts to keep the municipality’s roads safe and traffic flowing. The Road Maintenance Branch generally starts filling potholes on a regular basis in mid- to late March. A Patch Kat machine makes temporary repairs with a cold mixture of replacement material. An asphalt recycler that uses a hot mix of previously-used asphalt is deployed for permanent fixes. Repairs are ideally undertaken when the pavement is dry and the weather is warmer.

Why do some potholes reappear?

If a repaired pothole proves stubborn and reappears, it may be that it was fixed under less-than-ideal conditions. It may have had to have been taken care of on an emergency basis or in the winter for safety reasons during wet, cold weather, which is not conducive to lasting repairs.

The Road Maintenance branch welcomes the public’s help in pinpointing potholes for repair. You can report a pothole online or call 780-743-7000.

For potholes on Highways 63 and 881, please contact Alberta Transportation or Emcon Services Inc., which is contracted by Alberta Transportation.

  • Emcon Services: 1-800-390-2242
  • Alberta Transportation (calling from Alberta toll free):  310-0000, followed by 780-427-2731.
  • Alberta Transportation: (cell phone calling from Alberta toll free):  Push #310 (Telus) or *310 (AT&T), followed by 780-427-2731.
  • Alberta Transportation (calling from outside Alberta): 780-427-2731

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