2013 was a record-setting year for potholes in our city, and it tested our patience as a City. Crews worked around the clock through the spring and summer to fill 750,000 potholes, well above the seasonal average of 480,000.
It was a crisis, there’s no other word for it. And in response, City Council invested an additional $21 million last year on road triage work that meant crews were able to tackle the real problem instead of just the symptom.
Because that’s really what it comes down to – potholes are a symptom of a much more serious problem, and that’s the breakdown of the roads themselves. The frequent freeze/thaw cycles we get in Edmonton certainly play a role in the number of potholes that form over the course of the winter, but the bottom line is that if our road network was in better condition, there would be far fewer potholes.
The money we put into roads last year is already paying off in 2014. To the end of March 2014, I’m told crews have filled 49,000 potholes – compare that to the same time last year when they’d already repaired 125,000. No doubt, some stretches of road are still in very poor condition, but we are addressing the worst head on. It’s only a start but we have a long way to go to address years of inadequate investment in one of Edmonton’s most valuable assets – our transportation infrastructure.
The City already has a long-standing, successful Neighbourhood Renewal program that rehabilitates and repairs critical infrastructure in Edmonton’s aging communities. What we need is the same sort of long-term, sustainable investment program for arterial roads, and my council colleagues and I are working closely with administration on a plan that would see upwards of $1 billion invested in arterial & neighbourhood roads over the next five years. The report on Arterial Road Rehabilitation is coming forward to Council on April 30, and at that time we’ll be in a position to move forward on recommendations and lay the groundwork for the future.
I’m committed to seeing a dramatic improvement in Edmonton’s roads – I heard from citizens time after time leading up to last year’s civic election that the condition of our roads was a priority for them, and so it is a priority for me and the rest of City Council.
I understand the frustration you feel – in fact, I share it. We have taken bold steps, and I believe this Council will take further bold steps to improve the condition of our roads and reduce the number of potholes.