POTHOLE SEASON: It's that time of year again

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CORNWALL, Ontario - With temperatures (finally) starting to nudge above zero, the second-least favourite season of the year will soon begin plaguing motorists - pothole season.

The city is asking drivers concerned about the state of Cornwall roads to alert them to problem potholes (613-932-5354 ext. 5354).

Bill de Wit, the city's municipal works manager, said his department is expecting an onslaught of calls, once the spring thaw begins in earnest.

"We have patrols that are going out," he said. "Right now it's kind of at the lower end, but we're preparing for a lot more."

Temperatures are expected to spike early this week, hitting 5 C Tuesday, before plunging below zero again. A freeze-thaw cycle can play havoc with asphalt roads.

Municipalities are required, by law, to repair potholes as quickly as possible, or else they could be liable for damages.

But municipalities are not liable if they did not know, or could not reasonably have been expected to know, about the state of repair of a roadway.

"We try to get to them quickly," said de Wit, who added when pothole season really ramps up it can often be only an hour from the time a pothole is reported until it is patched, depending on severity. "If there's a really massive one, and it's on a weekend or a holiday, we can call people in."

Potholes are caused by the expansion and contraction of ground water under the pavement. When water freezes, it expands taking up more space under the pavement, causing it to bend, and crack, which weakens the material.

When ice melts, the pavement contracts and leaves gaps or voids in the surface under the pavement, where water can get in and be trapped. If the water freezes and thaws over and over, the pavement will weaken and continue cracking, eventually creating a hole.

Geographic location: CORNWALL, Ontario

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