Surviving Pothole Season in Kingston

pothole, asphalt, Simon HespWhile winter is nearing its bitter end, the spring thaw has revealed shear treachery on every inch of Kingston’s roads. Over the past few weeks, road conditions have worsened with potholes deepening, leaving drivers with broken suspensions and shattered nerves. The worst streets resemble unwanted obstacle courses, which challenge those behind the wheel to zigzag all over their lanes and go painfully slow.  It’s not a matter of avoiding all of the potholes, rather, it’s about choosing which ones you might be able to endure without crippling your ride.  The situation is borderline comical, with local radio and tv stations challenging listeners to identify the city’s most spectacular asphalt blemish.  A slightly less hilarious fact about Kingston’s pothole situation is the associated repair bill, which the Major estimated as costing a cool $1 million.  And just to be sure, the city’s standard timeline for making our streets less treacherous:

…ranges between 4 days and 30 days, depending on the size of the pothole and whether it is on a paved or an unpaved road. The City’s obligation to fix a pothole is triggered only after the municipality becomes aware of the problem.

Considering the current state of Kingston’s roads, this week’s poll wonders:

[poll id=”204″]

Although we’re currently suffering the consequences of the spring thaw, our city’s streets may be better off than other municipalities, thanks in part to a decision 5 years ago to adopt strict guidelines pertaining to the quality and ingredients of asphalt used to patch potholes.  Developed by Simon Hesp, a Queen’s University professor, the new strategy aims to reduce so-called garbage ingredients such as engine oil, a commonly used in additive in asphalt. Accordingly to Hesp, such additives will cause the asphalt to fail and crack in the first winter and worsen to to the point of it being nothing but rubble after 10 years.  Hesp’s new approach to asphalt is being used at 33 test sites across Ontario, and although it’s not without its sceptics, we can only hope it proves successful and catches on elsewhere.

Which city streets are the worst in Kingston at the moment?  Have you contacted the City of Kingston to let them know which spots are in need of some asphalt TLC?  And what about the impact of potholes on bikelanes?  Drop off your additive-free comments below.

Special thanks to Mark Sardella for today’s photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

3 thoughts on “Surviving Pothole Season in Kingston

  • On this topic: I have started a website that allows people to upload pictures or potholes and bad roads. Of course there is mapping ability. i hope to have this website reach outside of the Kingston area. the website is (Spelling is intentional)

    • Interesting site… although in the absence of city official monitoring that site, I doubt it will help things get fixed any quicker. Just over 4 years ago I discovered a map-based application called ClickFix, which allows anyone to identify/photography potholes and other areas requiring maintenance. I really like the interface and interaction it promotes, but again, without the City actively using such an application, it really does not little beyond serving as a information forum for commuters.

  • We have wrecked two brand-new winter tires in Kingston pot holes in the past couple of weeks. That's a cool $500 (two tires, one rim and installation, etc) out of our pockets due to the City's inability to maintain roads. I'm very unimpressed.

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