Holey ground: Abbotsford streets pocked with potholes

City of Abbotsford says its crews work as fast as possible to patch holes

This pothole on George Ferguson Way near Babich Street has been patched since this photo was taken on Feb. 15.

This pothole on George Ferguson Way near Babich Street has been patched since this photo was taken on Feb. 15.

The city has gone to potholes.

At least that’s what some Abbotsford residents will tell you.

Tawnya Milne was driving home from work late one recent night when she hit a pothole so big it ripped the plastic covering off her oil pan and wrenched her suspension. The oil pan subsequently fell off and $200 later, she is looking at further repairs.

The pothole she hit on George Ferguson Way near Babich Street is one of dozens throughout Abbotsford that have posed a hazard and annoyance to local drivers recently.

The pothole she hit may have been the worst in the city until it was recently repaired.

George Ferguson boasts several other prominent potholes along its stretch, including near the Gladys Avenue Railway crossing, and westbound after Bourquin Crescent intersection.

Other roads are also in less-than-pristine shape. But few of the holes could match the one Milne hit just east of Babich at the entrance to a small townhouse complex.

A 10-foot stretch of an entire lane of the road had eroded, leaving multiple holes, one several feet wide.

On The News’ Facebook site, nearly two dozen people said the pothole was among the worst. One Facebook commenter described it as a “sinkhole,” while another asked if it was “the one that can almost swallow a small car near Babich?”

A News photographer at the scene witnessed multiple drivers prepare to switch lanes, then reconsider upon noticing the pavement situation.

While Milne didn’t file a report with the city, the pothole she hit was repaired sometime between Wednesday afternoon and the following Thursday.

The apparent disproportionate amount of potholes found on George Ferguson Way can be blamed on its high rate of traffic and the city’s inability to apply permanent patches during the winter, according to a city spokesperson.

Rhonda Livingstone said in an email that city crews cannot make a permanent repair until weather improves and that a single pothole often has to be repaired several times throughout the winter.

This year’s unusually brutal weather has likely exacerbated the problem.

A pothole at the intersection of Sumas Way/Highway 11 and Delair Road also tests drivers commitment to their lane.

A Twitter user said on Tuesday that they were almost hit by a car swerving to avoid a large hole on Upper Maclure Road.

Many commenters on the Facebook post from The News decried the City of Abbotsford’s response to potholes.

“Not sure where our tax money is going, but it’s definitely not towards road repairs,” Linda Claudius-Mortimer wrote.

“Potholes can be hazard and they are a top priority for city staff to repair and the calls from the public are responded to as soon as we receive them,” Livingstone said.

The City of Abbotsford has a $148,000 budget for filling potholes and has filled 165 holes so far this year, she said. In 2015, the city filled a total of 1,261 potholes.

“During rain or extreme cold, depending on how many potholes are being reported, there will be at least one team of two staff repairing potholes,” Livingstone said. “The City has an asphalt patching crew and throughout the year this is one of their regular maintenance tasks, but all of our road staff is trained and any of them can perform the task.”

She said it typically takes a crew four hours to fix one pothole.

Complaints received by the city for potholes on roadways under the jurisdiction of the ministry of highways and transportation, such as Highway 11, are passed on to the ministry or its contractor, Livingstone said.

BCAA roadside response crews have seen an increase in flat tires caused by potholes in the Lower Mainland this winter, according to spokesperson Niela Melanio.

BCAA has also towed seven times more vehicles out of ditches this season over the same period last year, she said.

A BCAA survey conducted in October found that one third of B.C. drivers had no intention of preparing their cars for winter weather.

Those who wish to report a pothole can call the city’s engineering department at 604-853-5485.

– with files from Tyler Olsen