So let it be written…
When I was younger, I travelled a lot in the Third World. I would return home from these trips with a renewed appreciation for our smooth Canadian roads, which back then were typically free of car-swallowing potholes.
Those days are gone.
Why, just before I started writing this I heard a radio report about three cars pulled off to the side of the road near the Pattullo Bridge, victims of pothole damage to their tires.
That very bridge was closed for 39 hours in October 2015 for the expressed purpose of fixing potholes.
Rare is the commute in Surrey, it seems, where you don’t encounter some road construction. And yet, all these potholes. They’re everywhere.
And I’m not talking about the wee bumpity bump variety, but the thwackity whack-crunch type that spill your coffee, re-arrange your suspension and, if you’re particularly unlucky, leave you stranded at the side of the road as what happened to these poor souls on the radio.
So many pothole stories.
Consider George Hecimovic’s ugly tale. He was driving down 168th Street recently, rather slowly on account of it being a foggy night, and wham. Pothole.
He says it felt like his engine fell out. His steering wheel wobbling, George was looking for a safe place to pull over when blam — he hits another pothole.
“Now I’m starting to use language I didn’t want to use,” he recalls. I’ll bet. Been there, done that.
His alloy rim was “toast.” A few days later, equipped with new winter tires and new steel rims, he drives over a piece of car that was likely dislodged by a pothole, and pop — gotta buy yet another tire.
George’s total bill, thanks to Surrey’s unholy holey roads: $650.
Thanks for nuthin’.
Now, Surrey is a big place with 2,031 kilometres of roads for City Hall to worry about. Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s manager of engineering operations, told us last week that since Dec. 5th, the city repaired more than 2,100 potholes, a number which has got to be higher today. That’s roughly one repaired pothole for every kilometre of road in Surrey.
Costanzo said that when a city crew arrives to repair a pothole, they typically find more to fix.
Crocodile cracking, delaminations, gullies…
What’s that, a sinkhole?
Hey, where’d that lake come from? How deep is it?
In 2016, the city repaired more than 8,100 potholes, shy of the annual average of 9,000. In 2009, which had a bad winter like 2017 has had so far, the city repaired 13,000.
Costanzo says Surrey’s budget for fixing potholes is roughly $1.2 million.
It’s great Surrey has a plan, but geez, that’s cold comfort when you hit one of these things.
The other day I hit a moonscape of pits and bumps on Scott Road near 76A Avenue.
The thwackity whack-crunch type. Nearly got me a concussion.
Half expected to see hellfire in my rearview mirror. Or trolls, maybe, clambering up from the deep.
Jeepers, potholes are the pits.
Someone should form a support group for the traumatized. Sign me up, eh.
Or maybe, offer a tour of the city’s streets. Could be just like Surrey’s very own Yellowstone experience.
So let it be done.
Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org