Even though the snow is long gone, it's still too cool outside for asphalt repairs in the City of Weyburn.

Engineering Director Jennifer Wilkinson said the potholes and 'alligator cracking' are more noticeable this year due to a particularly dramatic freeze-thaw cycle this past winter. 

"A lot of the issues we're seeing with our asphalt is it'll get a defect and then when you have your freeze thaw cycles, we had a lot of them this winter, that asphalt and that base, they'll move and then they get moisture under them and then that moisture kind of will get in there and it'll start breaking up that surface," she explained. "So we're seeing a lot of that right now just because we have had a lot of that freeze thaw cycle from the winter."

"Saskatchewan winters are harsh on all our infrastructure. We've seen lots of heaving with sidewalks this year, as well as the roads, lot condition. And then we know that it can be exasperated by the amount of traffic, parking lanes, the semis that come through, things like that they kind of all play into it. Then anytime you can get water under that road structure, it really does actually kind of wreak havoc, and it really is accumulated this time of year because we haven't been able to get in there and get repairs done. So we do appreciate all of our city staff. We do drive these roads and we do take pride in our roads. But right now it's really bad, and of course, we only have so much money to fix roads per year. So we do prioritize them based on their traffic levels, the condition of them, and funding from the provincial government."

She said the issue with filling in potholes now is a cold mix or gravel will get washed out, especially if driven over, so this is why the potholes are currently worse than usual.

"Right now we're just waiting for the asphalt plants to get started up and the weather to get a bit warmer, and then we can start using hot mix and do better repairs on them."

Drainage from buildings can often flow onto the roads or in parking lots, which quickly reveals defects in roads.

"That water will get in there, so it can depend on how buildings drain off of them and how that's all rerouted, so we can see it in spots like that," she noted. "The one on Sims Avenue is over a culvert, but the culvert is completely in fine shape but it's just that there's a really high water table in that area right now, so you're seeing that the water got into the road infrastructure and that's why that one popped up."

Since Weyburn does not have an asphalt plant, fresh asphalt repairs are dependent on the plants in Regina and Estevan. For now, however, it is simply not warm enough yet to haul the hot mix that far.

Wilkinson noted there have been a few asphalt companies expressing interest in opening up in Weyburn, but so far that has not come into fruition, though she would love to see one here.

"We are definitely trying to use the best technology and equipment with the resources we have in the area," she commented. "We've had to do a bit of a workaround because we don't have an asphalt plant that close, but we do try and plan our work, and we've done a lot more research around pothole repair, how to do it effectively. We've tried different products, different mixes of asphalt. So we're I think we're doing a lot of that to ensure we have the best equipment and the best methods for the repairs. I think we've made a lot of progress over that in the last few years." 

One special piece of technology the City acquired recently is an infrared asphalt recycler.

"It will help a lot on that kind of what we call an alligator cracking," she noted. "You put this machine on top of the roadway and it will actually heat the asphalt and it'll make it a a little more pliable so that you can work with it. Then they'll take that and they will add additional hot mix into that and then they will be able to do a better repair and it will adhere better because you will have heated that asphalt and then they add like a rejuvenating oil in there and it should allow us to do some better longer term repairs, especially when you kind of have that cracking."

Starting and stopping of heavy vehicles, such as semis, also factors in to the rutting on major roadways such as First Avenue. The City is working toward a solution on that with some new camera-sensor traffic lights, which will help with traffic flow and reduce the number of unnecessary stops needed, especially during low-traffic times, such as late at night.